Post-Travel Reflection: Life Goes On

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“What is that feeling when you’re driving away from people and they recede on the plain till you see their specks dispersing? – it’s the too-huge world vaulting us, and it’s good-by. But we lean forward to the next crazy venture beneath the skies.”
[Jack Kerouac – On The Road]

Just because I’ve stopped (read: paused) travelling, doesn’t mean the world stopped with me. Far from it. Back in the ‘real’ world, change isn’t always that easy to handle.

This “too-huge world” has vaulted me during my travels more times than I can remember. It’s left me sleepless, too hot, too cold, hungry, thirsty, lonely and overwhelmed. For all the beauty and wonder I have seen each day as I explored new lands, there were the lost moments, the mosquito bites, the bouts of pink eye, the goodbyes. The endless goodbyes.

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Life is what happens while you’re busy travelling round the world. It’s happening to you and everyone you left back home and every other traveller.

You aren’t on pause; you just feel like you are. Anything is possible, and sometimes nothing at all. Both of which can be explained away easily and guilt-free by the fact that you are a traveller, a visitor, a ghost. You’ll arrive and leave and what happens in-between is all part of the experience. On to the next crazy venture beneath the skies of this enticing world. Until the experience comes back to hurt you. Until ‘real’ life catches up with you.

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Returning from a long time on the road is always going to be an interesting challenge. Because: life goes on. While you’ve been away on the other side of the world the sun still rose and set every day in every other country you weren’t in. Everyone went on living. But so did you; your life wasn’t on hold. It was going on every day. People didn’t see that – they didn’t see you. It was easier for you not to see it, either.

Suddenly you’re back home in a familiar place with people that have known you all your life. And slowly all the living you’ve been doing while you were gone creeps up on you. Or hits you all at once in an unexpected and vaulting way.

You weren’t a ghost. Those things that happened, they happened to the same person that you always were. You were living your life, it was going on all the time.

And on it still goes.

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