FOREWORD: The following is an excerpt from a small notebook I keep on me at all times. It was written under an awning near Cusco’s main square, La Plaza de Armas, while waiting out a heavy rain that soaked all who dared to cross the street. Backpackers were huddled under balconies to stay dry. Many seemed to be lost in thought, perhaps thinking about their respective country, family, or girl back home. The below sort of travel equation to determine the pain-level involved in letting go was inspired by their pensive faces. Perhaps it was my way of letting go too. Mind you, it’s full of holes that could be debated by passionate travelers like String Theory is debated by published physicists. It is not my intention to prove anything—these were rainy day thoughts that cared little for making perfect sense.
The hardest part is letting go. It’s a universal lesson everyone must learn at some point in their lives—because no one lives forever. Loved ones like everything we touch, taste, see, smell, and hear are temporary joys. The sooner we learn this, the more intense will be the joy they give us.
Letting go hits the traveler especially hard because it attacks from two sides and from two different angles. It’s a sentimental blow that cannot be blocked, dodged, escaped. It hits every time, only its impact varies. Like a boxer, it hardens the traveler’s skin, creating the illusion of invincibility, the deception of a painless pin prick, while likewise weakening his being unless a rest is taken from the very blows that cause him damage.
A Blow from Two Different Sides
The traveler must let go of those he meets on the road as well as those he leaves at home. The traveler lives between two worlds: his home & the road. A traveler is in constant motion, perpetually leaving and arriving. The act of travel is ever-present in both. No traveler can be home and on the road at the same time, though a few are able to make the road their home. The sometimes superficial letting go of those the traveler meets on the road is a constant reminder of the very real distancing he feels from those at home the longer he travels. Reversely, the same applies for the home person’s feelings toward the traveler. By far it is this home person’s fading feelings that weighs most heavily on the traveler’s mind. This same distancing does not always happen with those he meets on the road because time and distance are relative to the traveler. Two travelers do not part ways with final goodbyes but instead with casual see-you-laters, knowing that they may see each other again anywhere in the world, at anytime.
A Blow from Two Different Angles
Letting go both hardens and softens the traveler. On the road the traveler learns to accept a moment in time for what it is: a moment in time. A traveler accepts social situations with other travelers knowing they may end, that either the traveler or the other party will physically move onto a new location. A traveler treads more carefully when entering into social contracts with non-travelers and generally does not abuse the other’s more permanent outlook on friendship. A traveler enters into an intimate relationship—with travelers and non-travelers alike— under the pretense that though love may be eternal and without borders, people can change. The traveler knows this because he has seen it the world over. It is exactly this understanding of people’s changeable feelings, not the volatility of true love, that softens the traveler, that makes his pain very real. The traveler sees so many examples of minds changed, people evolved away from their old mindset, and becomes so accustomed to physically moving on before a relationship can develop into something more meaningful that he desperately wants to believe that when he does chose to develop it fully it will grow into a full-blown, unmistakable, permanent love. His own knowledge of the world works against him in his own most sacred desire for a peace that can only come by sharing his life with others, especially the person with whom he wants to share everything. Luckily, for his own sake, the traveler is adaptable and learns from each blow received.