For some reason travel to escape is seen as a bad thing. Like you are a coward and can’t cut it in the real world.
If that is the case, I will proudly write here on this blog that I can’t cut it in the real world.
And I sure as hell don’t want to.
Because the real world is mean and stingy and cruel. It’s full of rules and limitations of dream stealers and naysayers. People intent on tearing into you and tearing you down just because you dared to make your life count.
My negativity and cynicism stems from what?
A shitty arse bad couple of weeks online. I’ve been appalled and flabbergasted at the nastiness and cruelty that has been going on. Virtual strangers attacked as a form of welcome into a forum group, for innocently not following the rules they knew nothing about.
To women who have an online voice being insulted and demeaned and bitched about in private forum groups. To judging and criticising others for what they choose to do with their life and abusing for bloody spelling mistakes.
I’m exhausted. And once again that knot of angst has appeared. That place where I pace the floor and wring my hands, and pull the hairs on my head.
“I’ve got to leave. I’ve got to get out of here right now.” I start hatching the plans of where I could go, how much I could pack in my suitcase, how much money I have and how long it will last.
Escape, escape escape.
Return to the place where the only thing that matters is the story that you have to share right now.
I’m not interested in the colour of your skin, who you choose to share your bed with, what you do for a living, who you pray to at night, whether you’re toeing the blogger ethical lines (like whom makes up that shit anyway), or the mistakes you made in your past.
All I care about is you. Who are you? Where do you come from? What makes you laugh? Can I make you laugh? Can you make me laugh? Share something you love about your culture. Why? What don’t you like? Why? Why do you prostate like that when you pray? Who are your Gods?
How do you celebrate? How do you love? How do you raise your children? Do they light up your world like mine do? Would you die for them? Do you lie under the stars at night and marvel at their beauty? How do you catch fish? What do you think about my culture? Do you like beer?
Conversations, laughter and the connecting of two kindred spirits no matter how far apart our life choices may seem.
Questions, not so I can use the answers as a weapon to destroy in order to make myself feel better, but so I can learn and grow. Because I believe you have something to teach me. I believe our conversation can take away the fear. The fear that society inbreeds in me that I should feel for you.
Travel takes away the fear
The fear that evaporated that evening, where in remote village in Sumatra we were welcomed into a family’s home to celebrate their son’s wedding to his Muslim bride. They danced in circles, sang, stared at our white skin in wonder, and gave us shots of banana whiskey.
The fear that was dissipated when Mary, on the first day of my new school in a foreign land invited me back to her place for Friday wine night and Hitesh, a stranger managing the apartments we were viewing, guided us to what would become our home and then invited us for drinks in his. Friends now forever. Phew Americans are really nice.
The fear that was dispelled on the evening under the stars when the Masai warrior explained how to become a man he had to be circumcised and find his way back home to the village after healing himself in the middle of the savannah. Right after how he explained how he killed a leopard as part of that initiation. (one of the coolest conversations ever. Like a child who herad her first fairy tale.)
The fear that melted away when my friend’s gay workmates took us out for a night in Soho, London. We were the only straight women in the male-dominated bar. We were well looked after and not hit on once.
The fear that solidified into belief when entrepreneurs I just met stopped to share with me how they did it. You mean I can too?
The fear that changed to power when I learned from the Turkish people and Nelson Mandela that contrition, humility and forgiveness is the best way to heal and move forward.
The fear that died when my new Swedish rock climbing friend made me see that I was not so bad and I no longer had to hide in the shadows from myself.
Travel stole all the fear away with the smiles of strangers, the kindness of their deeds, the warmth of their invitations to peek into their lives for a few moments, the laughter and the slaps on the back, the cuddles from their sweet children.
Have I forgotten my travel lessons?
I’ve been asking myself all day why I let these things upset me so much, especially when I’m not really involved. Why can’t I just let it go? Why should I worry about what others choose to do as long as I am being true to me and others?
Maybe I’m not. Maybe I need to look at myself more. How am I not being nice? How am I not embracing differences? If I look deep enough I’ll find instances where I have not been the best I could be, where I’m not being an example of all I have learned.
Which makes me want to escape even more. Because I’m better when I’m in not in that space occupied by society.
What we are validating for our children
Ellen said it best the other day on her show where she spoke of bullying and the nastiness that is prevalent among our children. So bad that others take their life. Imagine. My heart dies with the thought, especially knowing that could be my child.
She said she didn’t understand how people could be so mean and so cruel and so heartless. How could they not be evolved enough to understand that we are on the same journey together and so we need to hold each other’s hands not break them?
Our children learn this from us. The adults, the ones who are supposed to teach them to BE KIND, to raise them as decent people. We may think that our children won’t learn from us if we gossip behind closed doors and sit in the privacy of Facebook groups to bully others, or if we abuse strangers for no other reason that they look, or think differently. Our children learn the behaviours. They feel the energy, the absorb everything we do and we create a society that validates fear, judgement and meanness and that makes me want to escape.
I want to go to the place where I learned that tolerance and compassion is the only way we can make our world better. It is the only place where I can open my heart and mind to someone different, and say,
“I like you just because. I want to hear about your life just because. I don’t fear you because I believe you have something to teach me and just because your different to me doesn’t mean there is anything wrong with me or you.”
Do you travel to escape?
P.S Tomorrow we are escaping to Port Maquarie for the long weekend. I’m hoping to get my head together so I can believe in the goodness of people again.