Sunday, February 12, 2012

The Wide-Eyed Rush of Traveling

Abe shared this passage with me today. It's from Thomas Kohnstamm's book, Do Travel Writers Go to Hell?, and Kohnstamm describes my favorite aspects of traveling more perfectly than I ever could. He writes:

"People, when dislocated from their customary surroundings, can free themselves from preconceived notions of how they are supposed to act.  Abroad, that which is formerly unacceptable can become commonplace.  That which is normal at home can be disregarded as an outdated practice of the past.  It's not "When in Rome, do as the Romans do."  People actually tend to do as they've always wanted to do - no one (at least, no one they're going to see again) is watching or passing judgement on them, and they are allowed to re-imagine themselves and recreate their own ability. 

When a human becomes unbound from his or her place, it also affects the perception of time.  The senses are inundated with new sights, smells, and sounds.  The flow of new, often-shocking details makes us more like wide-eyed children than jaded adults.  There is more concentration, recognition, and appreciation given to details throughout the day.  With no tether to a place and no base of reference, relationships and plans become hyperaccelerated.  New best friends are made and then never seen again.  Romances develop with the bottle-rocket trajectory of the Challenger.  For my generation, the first that has always had a computer at home and that considered video games a normal childhood pastime, life on the road is one of the few things that actually overwhelm our tolerance for stimuli and shock us into the here and now."