Travel changes you. At least, it changes me. Every time.
I could just say that, and I guess you’d believe me. But I have a nugget of tangible proof—easy evidence you can check out to confirm. For a while, I had been blogging weekly. Until now, I haven’t posted in over a month. My trip to Toronto is the cause. Not because I was unplugged from the matrix for that long, but because the waves of that change I’ve been hinting at are still rippling through me. It took this long for the rocking to settle down enough that I could wordify it.
Toronto kinda just happened. With an unspoken stirring-of-sorts already inside me, a rare 4-day weekend appeared. I seized its throat.
[While the trip itself could encompass a month’s worth of posts, I’m challenging myself to cram it all into a single paragraph.]
Amtrak’s time management skills suck. Still, travel by train is enjoyable. Toronto, for me, exists as a wonderland of breadth & depth, a thousand cultures coexisting in complicated public transport channels & rolling towers of skyscrapers stretched out like they’ll eventually spread to both horizons. As I already knew, Couchsurfing has my heart forever. My hosts were amazing. They introduced me to their particular nooks & crannies of the city, and gifted me with unforgettable experiences. Among them: poutine, Canadian beer, the Village, Distillery District, Fringe Festival, a refrigerated wall of cheese, Honest Ed’s, a rainbow of nationalities partying on a high-rise patio, a real-life impromptu game of Where in The World is Carmen Sandiego (only, I was Carmen), the Vomit Comet, a four-feet diameter orange made out of flip-flops, much laughter, etc, etc.
The pace of this short trip can be summed as: fuck sleep & cram in as much as you can. Embracing that philosophy, I left my house at 3 a.m. on July 4th, and rolled straight from the train station to work at 7 a.m. on July 8th. Yeah, worst.Monday.ever. It wasn’t until Tuesday, once I had caught up on sleep & could logically process incoming data, that I realized a major shift had happened inside me.
This can best be described as an opening up, an enlarging. Perhaps a renewal. But not like an atomic blast of realization. More subtle & barely noticeable, the way sunrise slowly tickles its light through the darkness until, suddenly, all is noon-bright.
I know that sounds all poetic & dreamy and shit. But it’s honest.
This trip changed me.
And it wasn’t [particularly] Toronto, or the long layovers in Buffalo, or visiting Niagara, or the people, libations, architecture. The newness did it to me. The possibilities of passion. The opportunity to embrace each day with wonder & exploration & expectancy. I thought I was already doing that. In fact, I know that I was. Or, perhaps more accurately, that I had done so in the past.
Passion undulates through a life. It crests & crescendos, but eventually flows over the downhill side into a trough. And it waits there, stuck, rocking back and forth with no reason to do otherwise. Journeys into new surroundings take all that potential energy at the bottom of the cycle & thrusts it up into another kinetic crest.
I suppose you want more proof of this change, you needy buggers.
Well, much of it is uber-personal. Things which you wouldn’t reel at as I am reeling. A few, concrete examples I can offer:
– A reset in my relationships. An infusion of passion & forward-thinking. [Okay maybe this isn’t as concrete as you’d like. Get hold of me and I’ll gladly share. You know, if you can handle details of a life which often raises eyebrows. SEE: everyone who’s ever asked.]
– New drive in my business life. I’d been slacking in this area for *reasons*. No more. Re-oxygenated blood is pumping through the veins. Passion has been revived.
– A fresh commitment [and an actual plan!!! Seriously, I have a calendar on the fridge now] to travel more. And often. And keep kineticizing those stubborn waves.
– Oh yeah, after 3# years of waiting/denial/fear/trepidation, I finally came out to my conservative, Southern Mama. So there’s that. Pretty damn concrete.
Supposedly this blog is about writing, right? My trials & tribulations, progress & successes. Not much of that included in this post, Lucas. Ahhhh, but that’s where you’re wrong. [Actually, now that I’ve mentioned it, I’m sure your mind is connecting the dots, imagining how every word of this post, every tendril of feeling within it, has tickled my writing bone like that poetic sunrise tickling the world.]
My unsolicited advice: GO SOMEWHERE. DO SOMETHING.
Hop on a bike, book a flight, inflate a raft, take a train that will never be on time. Hell, strap on a pair of skates and try not to break your neck as you slide down the handrail. Pop out your thumb and jump into a semi with a burly truckdriver named Bo or Nancy. Take a walk through an unexplored or long-forgotten part of your hamlet. Dust off your passport. Taste new eats. Get nosy with the stranger in the elevator, bookstore, grocery store line. Yes, especially the weird one. Shit–invite your neighbor over to watch a movie or play Canasta. With as much abandon as you can muster, break your damn routine. DO IT. Today.
Make the wave crest.
If I’m wrong about the whole change-and-passion-catalyst-thing, you can totally fire me as your life coach.
If I’m right, send pics. Tell me stories. If you’re doing it right, you’ll have plenty of both. And some passion to spare.