Recently, I have been reading Gloria Steinem’s new book, My Life on the Road. I’ve always proudly called myself feminist, but the truth is, I’ve never read anything by Gloria before. Let’s be clear right up front, though: This is not a blog about feminism; this is a blog about life. So there I was, reading in bed before falling asleep, the way I do almost every night, and I got to a passage that smacked me upside the head. It wasn’t the mention of Bruce Chatwin that got me—a man whose book The Songlines woke me up to the spirituality of travel as nothing ever had before—but I will start the quote with the mention of him because it explains the thought in full:
The travel writer Bruce Chatwin wrote that our nomadic past lives on in our ‘need for distraction, our mania for the new.’ In many languages, even the word for human being is ‘one who goes on migrations.’ Progress itself is a word rooted in a seasonal journey. Perhaps our need to escape into media is a misplaced desire for the journey.
Pow. In my heart of hearts, I’ve always considered myself an explorer. I love to explore new places, ideas, cultures, foods, and farms around the world. I’ve always marveled at those who prefer sameness and wondered how it was possible to not endeavor to seek the unknown. But after reading this quote, the obsession with television shows, movies, and even “reality” TV suddenly makes sense in a way that never made sense to me before. I get it now.
Still, with regard to traveling, I prefer the real thing, and all the research that goes into it. And while money helps A LOT, Steinem’s stories show that money isn’t required. Nor is driving. Steinem herself doesn’t know how to drive—nor did Jack Kerouac! Me? I do know how to drive. On both sides of the road!
I don’t know what makes the difference between one who is satisfied with stories and one who feels the need to head out into the unknown him- or herself. I do know that stories are essential in that they plant the seeds of desire to explore. For example, would Elon Musk, CEO of Tesla and SpaceX, want to go to Mars if he hadn’t at some point read about it or seen it in the movies or on TV? Some people dream. Others dream and then do.
Think about it. What do you dream about that you really want to experience? What’s stopping you? As long as it’s fairly legal…do it! Don’t just live someone else’s journey; create your own!
The more you head out on your own adventures, the more you realize that they are what make everything else come alive. They’re what make YOU come alive. You grow in ways you couldn’t have even imagined. And then the desire isn’t misplaced, but rather, placed perfectly where it belongs—right before you as you head out on every new journey.