Traveled Home

Do this. Not in a minute not tomorrow, right now. Find out exactly what time the sun rises wherever you happen to be. Wherever you call home.

Go ahead, this can wait.

I’ve been thinking a lot about movement. More specifically as it relates to how we see the space we are moving through. Probably because I’ve been doing a lot of moving. Whether training for an upcoming race, traveling, hiking with my family, much of the late spring and most of the summer I’ve felt primarily on the move.

Pack the gear. Sleeping pad, bag, tent, essentials to make coffee. Pack the clothes, stuff some food into a bag and empty the fridge into a cooler. Take them outside and methodically place them in the back of the car. Punch the destination into the GPS or in some cases pinpoint it on the paper map. Key into the ignition, foot on the gas and go. Stumble upon the unplanned enroute destinations that make travel meaningful. Experience the places that you are passing through. Arrive at the destination. The town, the land mark, the place in bold on the paper map, both literally and the one in your mind. The mental map of what travel looks like, what a trip will be, defined by key locations, stopping points and directions of movement. Arrive. The hum of tires on road replaced by the sound of gravel under foot, the sound of a bird’s wings as they move the air and allow it to fly. The familiarity and comfort of home replaced by a new and novel experience. An uncertainty and sense of wonder that I have found actually makes home, wherever that place is for you, all the sweeter upon your return.

Travel though does not need to be something huge or epic. It does not need to be the trip of thousands of miles, many months or to some far exotic locale. The wonder of new places and experiences comes in part from our location, but more importantly from allowing ourselves to notice something new. It is a component that is expected of going somewhere you have not been. How is this place different from my home? We are open to new experiences while in a new locale in a way that the regularity of our day to day has somehow muted.

The wonder for the world we live in most often is stunted by routine and familiarity. The ability to look out at a landscape or the simple space that surrounds us and be amazed is reserved only for far away places; the space we inhabit most, home, does not outwardly warrant this response. Sometimes the deepest connection, the most profound lessons come from noticing something that was so close it was overlooked. What is it that is right in front of me that I have not seen? Or have seen, but discounted.

This is where the earlier task comes into play.

Get up before the sun, go outside and see what the world looks like as it is graced by the first rays of the new day. Listen to the world you call home. What are the things that make this place, your home, special? Give the everyday the same attention, focus and wonder that you’d normally give only to travel. Wander along a trail that has become mundane with the eyes of a visitor. What would they take away? What would they see that they’d think back to with longing and reverence?

The conclusion of every trip I’ve ever taken has always preceded a melancholy that has slowly turned the joy of the experience into somethings else. I look back on each moment and am stuck with a strong sentimental sadness that those moments have passed. The only remnants, photos lodged in my mind or pasted into the pages of an album, or the words hastily scribbled on some page. That the experience itself is over. Gone. Never to be repeated or had again. That the best moments of memory are fleeting.

But the best moments are not gone. They are in me. Like a critical ingredient that completes a recipe. The foundation upon which all else is built. I carry them with me everywhere I go. Each new experience had not in isolation, but built on those of the past and each one shaping who I am moving forward. Each one of the sentimental memories are cause for joy and recognition, living in me and moving through me every day. Their impact on the world and all of my experiences like a light illuminating the world around me and shining on the path ahead.

So with that in mind, I rise early, before the sun. I grab the running shoes and socks I carefully laid out the night before. I make my way quietly outside. I see my home through the eyes of a traveller. And as the first glow of dawn shatters the steel gray sky, I lace up my shoes and move.


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