Sunday, June 5, 2011

Being at Home Wherever I Am

If we live truly, we shall see truly. ~ Ralph Waldo Emerson

Not everyone wants to travel the world, but most people can identify at least one place in the world they’d like to visit before they die. Where is that place for you, and what will you do to make sure you get there?

Traveling is in my blood. "I've been so many places in my life and time." That's not my line, that's Leon Russell's in A Song For You. Is he fantastic or what?

My father was a wandering Jew. The eldest of four children, he was born in Antwerp, because his parents just happened to be there for business at the time, while his two sisters and brother could claim Amsterdam as their place of birth. He went to sea after his father died of the Spanish Flu, and visited many places in the world I didn't even find out he did until decades after his death.

My mother traveled for her job in advertising. The summer after my father died, she signed me up to hike from the southern tip of the Netherlands to Luxembourg. At sixteen I took the train to Skopje, in the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, and hitchhiked the rest of the way to Athens, Greece with a 21-year-old girlfriend.
"No one will ever take away the memories you collect on your travels," she said.

In Palma, de Majorca one Spring, in my early twenties, I promised myself I'd have a profession that would take me places, and working as a designer and artist did just that. I vowed I would not move from my present home before I finish a few books in the making. And then? Then I'll work the Writers' Conferences circuit, giving lectures and readings, teaching workshops. That's how I envision I'll get around.

In my dreams I see all different hues of blue in lagoons, and ache to paint the exotic beaches I haven't taken in, but for their appearance on television or in a movie. I sing Yerushalayim Shel Zahav on that hike to Luxembourg, and whisper "next year in Jeruzalem". I hear the banter at dinner parties with friends in Istanbul, Melbourne, Christchurch, and more places I haven't been to, but I don't really need to go there before I die, I just hope I'll be home before that.

Chris Guillebeau is the author of The Art of Non-Conformity.

This work by by Judith van Praag is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.


Anastasia said...

Really, Ju!

Someone asked me this week about Bucket List items. What you'd want to do before you die.

I said that things that used to be on my to-do list I've either done, or realized it doesn't matter if I ever do. That includes going places on the planet.

But the ache that persists, and the thrill of finding it stage by stage, day by day, is becoming my best self in the time I have left.

Home as best self. Best self is home.

Judith van Praag said...

Anastasia, You've got it girl! Were of the same mind. Thanks for stopping by to let me know.