Or at least so I thought!
While I’ve written for some time now about my real-world journeys and experiences, it was while talking to my Arabic teacher this afternoon that I was able to crystallise the parallel pathway I’ve been travelling for the last three years. From fear to—well maybe not fearless—but something approaching that.
It’s not a question of multiple personality. Or unconnected journeys. But rather like a mirror that continually reflects from my physical travels to those of my psyche.
In the 21st century, there is little we don’t know about our earth, the world we inhabit. Even if we haven’t been somewhere before, it’s so easy to follow the crowd, check into the next hip and happening place. You can even visit your destination in cyberspace—street view, live cam, travel ratings from like minded others—before you even leave the country.
I’ve viewed my seat on the plane, checked out the local restaurants and street appeal of my accommodation. I know when and from where my trains go. I have apps on my mobile that will help me find fun and happening things to see and do. And of course, I have mobile maps to make sure I don’t get lost.
Going to Jordan is making me confront those issues, for all sorts of reasons. Physically, I’m going to be well taken care of. It’s the other journey, the one we might call “growth”, that is proving so difficult to travel. Because only if there is the possibility of growth, a potential for new discoveries, new relationships, new connections, does life remain valuable. The moment one stops growing, one starts dying.
And when words desert me, I’m comforted that others before me have managed to condense these grand fears and hopes into heart-wrenching lines of beauty:
Now let us sport us while we may,
And now, like amorous birds of prey,
Rather at once our time devour,
Than languish in his slow-chapped power.
Let us roll all our strength and all
Our sweetness up into one ball,
And tear our pleasure with rough strife
Through the iron gates of life;
Thus, though we cannot make our sun
Stand still, yet we will make him run.
Andrew Marvel, To His Coy Mistress