Archive for June, 2010

07
Jun
10

Departures

I’ve just returned from a long trip to Brazil that was hard work, thought-provoking, and often just plain good fun. But the circumstances just prior and after the trip have kept me thinking about the deeper meaning of travel. I’ll explain:

Our destination is usually what we’re thinking of when preparing for a trip.  The excitement, the planning, the packing and preparation all combine to keep us looking forward….ahead to our destination.  This is especially true when traveling to a new location or an exotic locale.  But this time, all I could think about was the act of leaving and how that had impacted me and changed the nature of my travel.

Leaving West Virginia to go to New Jersey and then to Brazil to work was a heart-rending experience this time.  I left the hospital, my Grandmother’s bedside, with the doctors telling me I would not see her again. She had been in a coma for 5 days and I had spent the last several nights with her, doing whatever I could to comfort her, and I hoped, ease her passage.  I was also leaving my mother to walk the rest of this journey by herself.  I had no choice, but that only made me feel worse.  And so my departure this time was filled with sadness and introspection.

I began to think about what “home” means to me. I live on two coasts these days with a lot of travel in between to other destinations.  So I’m never really sure where “home” is.  I refer to home as the “other” place that I live depending on where I am at the time.  Several years ago, while living in Europe for a spell, I came to know Paris as my home.  I also experience that going home feeling when I visit and work in California at Barbier Farm or Hope Township, New Jersey.  I know a bit of “home” in the southwest corner of Dartmoor National Park in a little place called Lydia Bridge, on a tree filled hillside in Hunting Valley, Ohio, and on Borgo Pinti in Florence, Italy. And now, having spent several weeks in Brazil, I find myself longing for the home that I discovered just outside of Sao Paolo.

I’ve been lucky in my travel these last ten years.  Often I’ve been able to stay longer than the usual week or so in whatever my destination has been, and I’ve made good friends that I look forward to seeing again.  As I’m writing this I am beginning to understand that I have been able to give myself the comfort of home no matter where I am on the planet, that it is the world we create for ourselves that resonates and lasts.  I’ve learned that departures can be devastating and still the right thing. I’ve learned that the best part of home is a smile and a hug from a loved one. And I’ve learned that those things are waiting for me wherever I go.

When I returned from a walk across Spain in 2001, I was asked repeatedly, “what did you discover?” It took a long time for me to answer that question appropriately. I discovered that the world is a vast and wondrous place, made intimate by the connections we share with others.

Next time I’m departing I’ll remember that I’m always headed home.




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