Sunday, 8 March 2015

The Transitions of Travel by Matthew Robinson

Foreword: I know the breaks in the text don't make sense, I had to add them in as he sent it as one long piece with no breaks at all, it is just easier to read if I break it down a bit even though it ruins it slightly. I just loved the poem and so accurately could relate to his pleasure & pain.

My transition to singlets, a seemingly innocuous development, is highly reflective of the open mindedness and unavoidable change that comes when traveling. 
No longer caught in the confines of home's excepted norms, or our perceived place within them, 
we branch out to try new things. 
At home surprises are rare; the roads we grew up on hold scant few secrets,
and our friends for the most part, are still as such,
because we know the way they act and find it affable.
It's why we keep them around. 

It's what defines and discriminates them from all the other people we meet.

And by choosing to keep them around, we maintain a status quo in our lives.
A continuity of comfort in the known.
By travelling we give all this up. 
And if it's our maiden voyage,
were not too sure what were giving it up for.
When we desire company and our friends are far away,
we may have no choice but to mingle with the vagavond-ish minstrels and meandering miscreants. 
The most dangerous part of this meeting of minds,
is that we might find that the "others" aren't mad,
and it might be us who's misinformed.
We get on busses full of strangers and take the free seat next to the only other foreign face for miles. 
Committing to a long journey next to someone's who's only known similarity,
is that they also decided to see what lay beyond their city limits.
In such situations, we may find we connect with people we might have brushed off in the busyness and haste of our routine. 
Or perhaps people who challenge our veritable views of the world,
without a vestige of hesitation.
They know not who we are, nor what we stand for,
and probably won't be around long enough to reap any consequences. 
So spare us no pity when saying what they think. 
As we find our staples out of reach or beyond our pocket,
we try new foods; ether through our blossoming sense of adventure, 
which is kindled by our natural curiosity and desire to understand this new world we find ourselves in; or simply because there is no other option, 
and it's ether stave as a food fearing philistine, 
or go native and see what the Romans are on about! 
We also change our styles to assimilate into a new demographic. 
Straight laced bankers don sarongs and drink exotic cocktails. 
The rigidity of the iron clad 9-5 grind becomes a distant memory, 
as does any hope of a regular sleep pattern. 

They are melted down and transformed, taking on the fluidity of mercury on merry-go-round. 

At the mercy of a force that knows no conformity to days past, 
or to what you thought was going to pass. 

As each new day brings with it a new social dynamic, 

extroverts may find a quiet solace in introversion, 
no longer required to fill the part they have grown into and carved out for themselves at home. 
Introverts may find their voice, on a stage in an unknown land, 
proselytised they walk the boards with a rewritten script in hand. 

Our appearance, no longer high on the agenda, morphs, 

as makeup and accessories are done away with. 
Replaced by that which delivers practicality and utility in its function. 
I find myself looking more dishevelled by the day, as my few clothes become flimsy rags, 
broken down by too much hand washing and late night wringing. 
Simultaneously I find myself stripping down to the bare necessities as I expunge any extraneous accoutrements. 
This is most noticeable when couch surfing, 
as I find myself thrown back into a world of normality. 
A world where people are clean and clothes wholesome.

Whilst making our way through these new lands and encountering peculiar people

we are constantly placed in scenarios so unique and unfamiliar
that we find ourselves scrabbling for new solutions. 
Pushing our patience when we are alone in the unknown. 
Forcing us to fathom what we can't understand, all without the faculty of a home crowd. 
At every turn we must ether adapt or be engulfed by angst. 

We must seek ways to incorporate what we find, into what we already know. 

Often the puzzle doesn't fit and we are left with extra pieces, 
which we must carry around like a cumbersome souvenir, until such a time that they do. 

On the most part, adapt we do, as is our nature. 

We grow to find ourselves at ease in the unknown, and should we travel long enough, 
it too will take on a sense of repetition when viewed at the macro level.

It is true that change is the only constant in life, 

however the rate of this change is very much dependant on the life we are living. 
At home it's slow and steady, almost imperceptible at times, 
we lope through our lives at a steady plod. 
Like a donkey pursuing a carrot on a treadmill, 
all the while never noticing that as we walk forward the landscape is unchanged. 
But the clock is always ticking, and the carrot remains just out of reach. 
On the road our metaphorical donkey is thrown into the lions den, 
where he must tame the king of the jungle and rise to the challenge, of end up a carrot himself.

As if all this change isn't enough to compute, 

returning home brings with it it's own set of struggles 
as we try to amalgamate our new sense of self into our old lives, where thing feel immutable. 

We find ourselves different in such a way that we may not be able to relate to our old friends in the same way. 

We yearn for the people we met in weird places, 
feeling a stronger affiliation to strangers in strange lands than old friends in our homeland. 
For they share our understanding of what it's like to leave it all behind and embark on a mission where god laughs at our plans, and we have to stand alone and be bold.
But should we rise up and feast with the kings 

and find our own path through this strange world of things, 
we will feel at home where ever we are, 
be it in lands that are near or far.

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