Perhaps it’s because I grew up in a small, close-knit community, but something in me periodically needs to break free, sail away, explore the wider world. In the Pulitzer Prize-winning poet Elizabeth Bishop’s poem “Questions of Travel” she writes: “What childishness is it that while there’s a breath of life/ in our bodies, we are determined to rush/to see the sun the other way around?/The tiniest green hummingbird in the world?”
Though Bishop never answers the question outright in the poem, she does make a case for the new and different by describing her trip to Brazil, a country she came to love deeply, in ravishing and persuasive detail.
I believe that a lot of my of love of travel — or wanderlust (what a lovely word!) — is simply the longing to see things “from the other way round.” Waking up early in the morning in Nice, say, and noticing the full moon, filmy as egg white, floating over the still sleeping town. La lune! La ville! La Mediterranae! In a different country, in another language, the moon takes on fresh meaning and beauty. Like Steve Job’s famous “Think different” tagline for the Mac, I think traveling allows you to “See different.”
Or, as I wrote in the opening of my novel Local Knowledge — when you’ve lived in one place all your life, “you stop seeing things after a while. Things and people. Even those you love. Maybe especially those you love.” Even if it’s just a weekend at the shore or drive in the county on a Sunday afternoon, there’s something about leaving the familiar and getting away from it all that forces you to reconsider your own place in the world. To see your life with new eyes. Where have you been lately?
My parents went on a trip around the world for their honeymoon in 1932/33, so all of my life I heard stories of that trip, always finished by the line — “Travel is the best education.”
And I married a man whose goal in his work life was to get employers to pay for his travel; all of his jobs involved extensive travel, as well as living in Rio de Janeiro (twice), Paris, London, and Rome — all, unfortunately, before he met me. But I love traveling (the more exotic, the better) and had my own stint in Nairobi, Kenya for four years.
Traveling and, especially, living in another culture is the most amazing eye opener. My parents were right: travel is the best education!
There was one wild moment — among many in my childhood — when my father was going to buy an old Chinese junk and we were going to sail around the world. Oh, I was so thrilled by the idea! Probably just as well that it didn’t happen.
The moon brings out romance anywhere, and creates wanderlust of the heart! Minute 0:54 is my favorite: “Ah, que bella luna!”
Thanks, Leslie — loved the trailer!
I share it!!! And I enjoyed the read muchly!
From Theda Spracklin in Seattle
Oh my goodness, yes. As you know Scott and I are quite wanderlustful. I don’t think we could live without our Sunday drives. Yesterday we drove up to Lake Champlain to see the new Crown Point Bridge and get a lake fix. It was a glorious day. The lake was cobalt and the mountains still colorfully filled with golden/orange oaks. We saw a pair of Bald Eagles floating and at least 15 or 20 hawks. One, in fact, led us down a dirt road flying low just ahead of us almost playing. It was wonderful to experience the day “from the other way round!” — From Leslie In Massachusetts
Well, when we get lucky enough to travel to beautiful places it brings us to a happier place and we always promise we shall not wait too long for a new one. I am lucky to go to Croatia every summer but for the rest of the year I do find it amazing how much is waiting to be seen just an hour away from New York C.
This is a lovely site.I too like to travel, but alas cannot really afford to right now. I have been to Switzerland, France, Belgium, Germany, Scandinavia, England and Scotland when I was much younger and had the energy to get around.