Monday, June 25, 2012

Hey Barkeep! May I Have Another Flight?

“Our battered suitcases were piled on the sidewalk again; we had longer ways to go. But no matter, the road is life.” – Jack Kerouac
Whenever someone asks me if I want water with my Scotch, I say I'm thirsty, not dirty.
-Joe E. Lewis

I am a traveler. I can't seperate myself from being a traveller any more than I can seperate myself from being a musician. It's who I am.

As I have grown older I have embraced that fact and my life is for this acceptance. Here's why:

I have acquired a taste for the worst parts of traveling. I used to try and block out the bitterness so that these parts of the travel were hardly even noticable to me. Things like spending days in airports or traveling in less than ideal conditions had become almost subconscious to me. I couldn't dwell on them because I had learned to ignore them. But as I matured into a more seasoned veteran of motion, I realized that these little inconveniences aren't to be discarded or ignored. They add character and complexity to the journey. The best way I can think to describe it is to relate travel to a glass of scotch. I have a feeling that most everyone's first handshake with Dewar's (or the like) is an unpleasant one. At that moment most everyone, myself include, wondered why anyone would drink such poison. It is harsh and abrasive to the virgin palate. However, once (or IF) scotch has been given a fair chance a drinker usually finds that there are a plethora of amazing subtleties and characteristics to Scotch that the drinker had initially overlooked.

For me, this is analogous to travelling.

Don't misunderstand me, There isn't anything specifically wonderful about sitting on a stuffy airplane for 17 hours next to a snoring British man. There isn't anything inherently great about having to nap on a sidewalk because the airport is closed for the next few hours and there is no where else to go. But these things are part of the whole. And the whole is vital to my life and my happiness.

These travel woes have a bitterness to them that is unmistakable, but now that I have lived with them for so many years I see that they actually enhance the experience. (If for no other reason they enhance the experience because their juxtaposition with the fun parts of travel, makes the fun parts seem all the more wonderful.)

I have been fortunate to see so many unbelievable things around this world and it looks like I will be seeing many more very soon. I leave in three days to go overseas for a month. I will be playing in the Marshall Islands for two weeks then I will be playing a string of shows in Belgium and Germany. These destinations are reason enough to be excited. But I look forward to the travel itself too. I look forward to it because I know I will inevitably experience things along the way that I could not have even dreamed would happen. They may be pleasant surprises or horrible surprises, but they will be surprises nonetheless. And this uncalculatable variable is part of what gives my life its vividness and excitement.

I travel. I love to travel to destinations I've never been to. But reaching destinations aren't the only joy I get from traveling. I have established a veritable need for travelling. In the same way my mouth involuntarily waters at the scent of my favorite foods, my soul is effected by the act of movement. The experiences I encounter while travelling (involoving myself with different cultures, people, foods, drinks, music, geography, etc) are what actually sate my need, but the motion is a prelude to all this. It alerts my soul that an adventure is afoot. Much like my watering mouth, my soul anticipates the reward.

Without motion, any direction in life is merely a solitary vantage point. With motion, any direction in life is an adventure.

In the next 4 weeks I will cross the International Date Line twice, I will cross the Pacific Ocean and Atlantic Ocean, I'll be in 4 different countries, I'll be on 27 different flights, I'll have 88 hours of layovers. And I'll be smiling the whole time.

I know a "normal" person may dread so much motion. They would likely try their best to congeal all the travelling together, take it like a bitter pill, and then get to the enjoyment which is waiting at the other end.

But again, for me, this trip is (as all trips are) a nice Scotch........and you don't gulp Scotch. Scotch is intended for slowly sipping.


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