Sunday, June 29, 2008

Why We Run

Those of you that know me are aware that I have been a tour guide in Europe for the majority of last year. Blah blah Paris blah beer blah. Here's something you might not know: I'm not going back. Why, you ask? Well, we can thank Mr. Hemingway for the answer (and I'm paraphrasing here):
"No matter how far you go, you can never run away from yourself."

When I read those lines in The Sun Also Rises, I felt as if His Beardedness was reaching out to me from the literary ether. It struck me like the left horn of a run-away at Pamplona. I literally had to put the book down momentarily. Yeah, perhaps it was a bit dramatic. But, hell, nobody was looking. Let me have my moment. Regardless, I felt like an old friend had clasped my shoulder and said in a gruff baritone voice, "Matt, it's been fun, but it's time to get a big boy job and help your parents pay off your college loans... you spoiled bastard." He'd spittle a little (whiskey soda) with the "s" in "spoiled".

And there's the rub.

Travelling is a wonderful opportunity. There's no doubt about that. Exploring narrow streets, meeting fascinating people, imbibing the unimbibable; these are what make the experience so magical. It's the chance to leave the mundane behind and see the world from a new perspective. Ideally, we can learn to appreciate and embrace the differences that make this world such a colorful place. But. There's a time and a place for all this.

If in order to travel you must mooch off your parents generosity, it is time to reconsider if this is the best idea. Going broke isn't helping anybody out. Sure, I have some killer stories about near death experiences in the darkest recesses of Western Europe... but I also have about $22 in my pocket because of it. And a hangover. Nobody needs that.

My point is to travel when you can. Spend your extra money on it. Live the stories. But don't make it your life... unless you can afford that. In which case, I'm jealous. And single. And willing to travel.

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