The Traveller’s Curse

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Much has been written in the last few years on the benefits of travel, and how it positively influences the mind by broadening horizons. You get to see a wider pallet of the picture that is life. Having said this, there are few who even mention that there could even be a bad side to travel and meeting people abroad. There’s even less who wouldn’t be surprised to hear such an idea. Nevertheless, there is a very real danger.

The main problem is that most other people on Earth do not travel. As such, whenever you leave a place, you also leave people behind. These people could’ve meant the world to you, and so to leave that place behind feels like there’s unfinished business to attend to. These unfinished stories, in aggregate, do take their toll. You might even at times look at a map, and think of all the friends, love affairs, moments and connections that you left behind. You’ve tried to maintain contact online, but it is an ill substitute for seeing them face to face.

It’ll then occur to you to try to make amends somehow, by visiting them. Sometimes it’ll work out stupendously, and you will pick up where you left off. At other times, you might have realised that whilst you were taking a different path in life, they were taking theirs as well. The common ground that you had with them is no longer there by the time you meet. They might’ve developed new interests, philosophies, friends or even boyfriends. Neither party is at fault here, it’s simply how life is. To a great extent you expect that the place you left will be the same next time that you visit, and at others, you expect to see the place with the same eyes that you had before you went on your journey. This is not the case, the only thing constant in life is change.

These are the consequences of your life decisions. You have become the fabled wandering man of myth. The obvious answer would be to stop being a nomad and settle down. Yet, there is a part in you that is appalled at the thought. It is then that you realise that the supposed curse is an illusion. It is natural not to want to lose, and thus we do everything in our power to try and avoid it. Having said this, you met these amazing people in the first place BECAUSE you decided to take to the road. As Shakespeare well put it, “it is better to have loved and lost, than to have never loved at all.”

It is true that you will have a lot of inconclusive tales in your life, it is the nature of things. Nevertheless, the quality of the stories will be vastly better than had you remained at home. Not only that, they’ll be more plentiful in number, as you experience a wider range of things on the road than in normal life. Imagine if you will, that before you I hold a box of books, and behind me is a library with several million books. I tell you to choose one of the options, with the caveat that these are the only books you’ll be able to read in your life. There is also an additional twist to it, the box of books contains all books in their entirety, from start to finish. Some are good, some are terrible, but they’re all volumes and stories you’ve heard of before though, no real surprises. On the other hand, the library contains books both amazing and horrifying, but some have randomly had their last few chapters ripped out. To add insult to injury, you’ve never heard of most of the books either.

Now, the question I have before you: would you choose the box, knowing from the beginning what you’re getting, and knowing that you’ll be able to finish whatever book you start; or would you gamble with the library of the unknown, knowing that there are many books out there of amazing quality, but which you might not be able to finish?

If you can answer the question truthfully, then you’ll know whether you can live through the Traveller’s Curse. As for myself, I much rather have the option of leaving a bad situation, than being stuck in it to perpetuity. Not being able to finish some of the stories, is simply the way life balances out the fact that you are getting magnitudes more of them than otherwise.

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