Travel, My Choice of Running Shoes

 

All journeys have secret destinations of which the traveler is unaware.”
– Martin Buber

 

I am a runner. I don’t mean this in the marathon or athlete sort of way, but in a more metaphorical and subconscious sense. Perhaps only within the past decade have I realized this (or stopped denying it), though I suppose I’ve always been IMG_8663a runner. I was formerly a runner in the literal sense too; and during a time when healing ankle injuries prevented me from physically running, I developed an addiction to travel. Now, travel has become my equivalent of putting on running shoes. As I ponder this, I wonder if my most recent travel escapades have been partly (largely?) motivated by a subconscious need to run – to escape. Escape from inner turmoil, escape from boredom, escape from professional distress, escape from life’s curveballs. Now, once again in the midst of an emotional imbalance, I’m desperate to be elsewhere. As if I can escape toward more effective distractions. As if I can, even briefly, find somewhere to forget my mending heart and my professional frustrations. As if I can, when somewhere else, be someone else.

Remember Julia Roberts in Runaway Bride? She was a runner too. Someday, perhaps I'll trade in my running shoes as well.

In “Runaway Bride,” Julia Roberts was a runner too. Someday, perhaps I’ll trade in my running shoes as well.

As I was voicing to a friend the idea that I’m a “runner,” said friend frankly pointed out (as true friends do) that I “obviously” am one. Why? Because I “ran away from Guam over a decade ago.” You know what? I can’t deny it. At all. It’s a true statement. So, yes, I guess I’ve always been a runner. Why am I mulling this over today? Because I’ve got the urge to run again. Perhaps it’s an innate character flaw.

This time last year, I’d just gotten back into the country after having been away for some months exploring other cultures, other lifestyles, other versions of myself. Why was I gone so long? I thought it was in search of “more,” but I’m now wondering if I was, instead, on the run. Perhaps it was both. What’s certain is that I came back a changed person. My quarter-life crisis had bubbled up into a career break that concluded like a Johann Wolfgang Von Goethe quote: “It’s not where we stand, but in what direction we are moving.” I didn’t have all the answers when I came home –in fact, I didn’t have any– but it was ok; for as long as I was –am– moving forward, it didn’t matter what speed I was moving at. I was –am– still moving.

It’s commonly said that travel changes you. This, I wholeheartedly believe to be true. Your view of the world, of its similarities and differences, of your place in it…. Once you travel, it’s never quite the same. At a time when I was despairing, I went traveling and found hope again. I wonder what I’ll find on my next adventure.