Monday, January 4, 2010

A Transcient Existence

For my part, I travel not to go anywhere, but to go. I travel for travel’s sake. The great affair is to move.” – Robert Louis Stevenson

As a new year, a new decade, rolls around, this quote takes on a certain poignant resonance. Each new year comes with its own expectation - one of change, transformation. A new year - a new beginning.

Although the 1st of January has not always been the date of New Years, January has symbolised a time of new beginnings since 153 BC. Named after Janus, the two-faced Roman God of beginnings and entrances, the month of January seems as good a time as any to look back on the year just past and the year ahead.

Many an untrodden paths lie ahead, all waiting to be travelled. The choice is delightful and terrifying. What if you chose the wrong one, what if there is no way to turn back? Travel, for travel's sake, is no frivolous pursuit. It is a daunting undertaking, an adventure for the brave of heart.

When asked this year what our resolutions are, we might give pause before giving an answer. Where are we really wanting to go, who are we really wanting to become not only in the next year, but in the next decade? Robert Frost answered this dilemma perfectly a long time ago: "Two paths diverged in the woods and I - I took the one less travelled by, and that has made all the difference."

So instead of coming up with the usual answers - weight loss, quitting smoking etc (no matter how great these goals are), think of where you really want to go in the deeper sense of your world.

Look how far you've come in the last decade. I became a published writer, got my first screenwriting credit, started and finished law school, got admitted to the Bar, travelled Europe and America a number of times both with friends and solo. Looking back I can say that the experiences I've had drastically changed my path in the last ten years.

But when I imagine looking back on this time, on today January 6, 2010, in a decade, I hope to see even more progression. Perhaps, it's because having be raised in airport lounges, with the smells and sounds of transit reminiscent of the scents of home, the idea of inertia automatically becomes a concept that is "outside my comfort zone". I am discontent without movement, whether it be travel or movement in the sense of my own personal journey forward.

I have often been told, with an air of parental disapproval, that I am a 'discontented child' never satisfied with my lot in life, always wanting more. Always seeking, never happy to stay put. More knowledge, more success, more books, more career paths, more options, more places to put onto my list of "Have Been There" - more, more, more.

But isn't this what life is about? Progression, a journey forward - travel for travel's sake? The great affair of life is movement. Once you stop, you're dead.

So look back on the past decade and find the things that you regret - not taking that Ancient History course, not jumping on that plane to New York, not moving across the country to live solo and free in a strange new town for a week, a month, a year. What stopped you? What is stopping you now from pursuing those paths? Are the excuses real, or are they fear preventing you from living life to its fullest?

Life is about movement, we see it everywhere: Maiden, Mother, Crone and Death; New Moon, Full Moon, Waning Moon and Dark Moon; Spring, Summer, Fall and Winter. Life is about change. There is no real destination, if there is one we certainly don't know for sure where it is or who we will be when we get there. We are all, in the end, travellers on a journey for travels sake. So why not make it a great affair?

Why resign ourselves to the pointless faith of my dear friend Sisyphus and continue meandering on a path that is barren, cold; gray.

Raise your eyes from your feet and look around you. See the other paths and think long and hard before you decide not to take one that interests you - think about who you want to be when you look back at the decade to come, and then take the path that will get you there.

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