It’s time to travel.
It’s time to travel because you have time to read this and, whilst this might be shooting myself in the world-dusty foot, travel is far more worth your time than anything I have to say.
And travel is worth your time, because you are worth your time.
All you ever really had was yourself and the Earth.
I think I’ll try some larger font sizes to encourage you to do it; maybe if the writing is thuddier – you’ll get to it.
Besides the talent, brains, good looks and whatever else you thought others had to their advantage, you still had yourself and you still had the Earth.
So go plunder and soak-up the soak-up-ables of this world, because of the greatest regrets the occupants of deathbeds claim (other than not learning another language – which’d is hardly comparable to travelling: you’d just end up saying you regret not-travelling in stunted Francais) – the most claimed and most rued truth is the road most travelled having been merely stomped on by yet another.
These are the times you need to think back in history, when the Earth was slightly less ancient and joining/being press-ganged into the military was your best chance of seeing the world and therein giving some kudos to the definition of ‘living’.
‘Living’ isn’t in the cubical, nor is it the job title on the door to the office you’re yet to occupy.
Nobody looks back on their life wishing they’d played more Candy Crush, unless of course it were whilst whiling away the hours in the back of a tour bus – but that’s a real waste of scenery.
I’d done a fair bit of here-and-there-ing in my 27 years of life, and whilst those times were tremendous – it was my 7 months of travel through South East Asia, Australasia, New Zealand and North America that really sealed the deal as to how I felt about Earth and why I was strolling around upon it.
Get gone and (no offence) just go away.
Now I’ve been home for several months now and have gone about day-to-day life as best I can, and thus I’ve had the time to process the experiences of my travel and what they now mean to me.
And here’s what’s key in my thinking: travel is not my everything, but my everything is very different now I’ve travelled.
It’s hard to return to the corporate world and give two tupenny tosses about the printer machine’s new button and how only Bodoni MT Condensed is the only font capable of truly expressing us as a company.
Instead, I remember flying…on a bus.
It’s an easily achievable method of motion once your driver realises that (1.) he is incredibly late for the tour’s scheduled arrival and (2.) you get more job satisfaction when you’ve put your passengers in surreal danger and gotten them out from it because you were dangerous.
We were hurtling our way through some ethereal mountain roads in Vietnam – heading north to Dalat at speeds illegal outside of South East Asia.
The view was typical of Vietnam; four feet away and consisting of a thick grey mist that a bus’s headlights couldn’t penetrate (but the rest of it certainly could at top speed) – with intermittent splashes of wondrous valleys and awe-inspiring mountains of that dark green that speaks such a wealth of nature one can only feel a little hurt at how the Earth has got so much going on besides you.
And despite our 10-moutains-per-hour speed – some corners required the nuances instilled from days as an experienced mountain bus driver. It was on one of these two-minute turns in which the passengers clenched their stomachs, buttocks and Candy Crush drenched Ipads in preparation for the imminent through-the-floor pedalling that our driver was treating us with, that I looked out of my window to see what locals were nearing the bus.
Three young children, looking very cold and very wet, took steps towards us in crappy plastic shoes, their hands upturned and out-stretched in the international sign for begging, though with that hurried professional assuredness that comes from knowing the passengers on board had gold to spare and the indulgence with which to sprinkle it like fairy dust all over Vietnam.
We knew they would act upon our pity, big eyes and little feet in even crappier plastic shoes than the last sentence, calling to us: “Please!” whilst we did our best to ignore; knowing that a dollar now meant it was less likely they’d ever be sent into school and have a chance to learn their way out of those shoes and down from the mountain.
Seeing life like that makes you put down the donut.
But what I saw next as we sped away from these three children made me want to throw a donut into the sky, thump it with a baseball bat with all the strength I could muster into the mouth of anyone who wanted to join the game, all due to the sheer fact that satisfying hunger is fine, but some things are eternally fun.
Another corner, another three children come into view, utterly and completely uninterested in the potential for making out-of-school money from enormous tourists…because they were – gleefully as I’ve learnt only people doing this can be – playing with a fireball.
They didn’t have lunch, but they sure as sweet hell had a fireball. And it was satisfying.
I don’t know where they got it from, but they had gotten themselves a fireball and were being entirely appropriate with it – picking it up barehanded, throwing it at (not ‘to’; fuck ‘to’) one another (the drizzle cooled them down), kicking it up and down the mountain and smiling their teeth into another dimension.
I’ve never seen humans do anything better than how those little Vietnamese children conducted themselves with their fireball guest of gusto, their small bundle of vibrant, amazing joy that excited them so much that hunger could go and fuck itself.
Additionally, I promise you that this is not metaphorical. They were holding a fireball and lobbing it at their friends.
I wish I had a fireball, and sitting at a desk, reading a snooty email either complimenting or complaining (I can’t be bothered to find out which) about my choice of font, I remember the two trios I encountered in those Vietnamese mountains.
The three hungry children and the three fireballers. Both living total alternatives to the life of a typical Englishman, and now I step forward knowing of them both.
That’s progress, that’s healthy, that’s an experience you tell the grandchildren about and that’s travelling.
And again, this experience was not my everything, but now my everything means something very different to me.
Travel – either do that or cure cancer with video games; one’s more likely and one’s possibly even more enjoyable (not that I’ve cured cancer with video games).
Fireballs and hunger, hunger and fireballs.