Fading Wanderlust

 

Without a doubt, the “travel bug” bit me in my teenage years; the first infection might have been my first flight at 15 years old from California to Massachusetts to visit family. But then I had the opportunity to study at Tel Aviv University in Israel for a year (1969-1970), and my fate was sealed.

Fortunately, I married a man who not only loved to travel, too, but also enjoyed going to the same countries I wanted to see. When he was in the Navy (before we’d met) and in his work as a consulting engineer, he saw a number of countries that I’ve never seen. Then again, on my return trip from Israel I had six weeks to see parts of Europe that he has never seen. Everywhere we’ve been together, we’ve been fascinated by the various cultures; both of us loved to learn and have new experiences. I would study up on each country’s culture before we left and share with him those parts I thought he would enjoy. It has been a great partnership.

Our favorite part of the world was Southeast Asia. For me, I appreciated the connection to my Buddhist practice (at that time). I think that Jerry enjoyed how exotic these countries were compared to the Western countries. The beauty, color, and extravagance of traditional costumes and temples compared to Western mores were captivating. And often the people were charming, too. By the time we went to Australia, Jerry was a bit put off by how “ordinary” it was (except for the indigenous community); I needed to remind him that there was much to see and enjoy, in spite of the many similarities to our own country.

Today I was surprised to realize how many years have passed since our last major trip: twelve years. We visited Thailand to visit friends, and then spent a week in beautiful Kyoto, Japan. We had planned a three-week Mediterranean cruise just before the pandemic, and I was looking forward to introducing Jerry to Israel for the first time. The cruise has been rescheduled for 2023. I also realized that we have not contemplated any other major trips. (We make periodic trips around Florida which we really enjoy).

*     *     *

I was spurred to write this post after my husband spoke to friends of ours who planned on going to Australia and New Zealand. They were excited about the trip, since it was the only continent that they had not visited. I was happy for them, but was a bit surprised that my own travel juices had not been stimulated. I started to sift through the possible reasons for my reaction: was I tired of traveling? Was it too much work to plan, pack, travel sometimes over 20 hours by jet, deal with jet lag? Gradually the possible reason for my reticence was unrelated to travel at all.

Suddenly I realized that I might be pursuing a different kind of journey.

So much of my personal journey has been in the outer world; I realized that we had visited nearly 20 countries (what a blessing!) and some more than once. We’d wanted to step outside our own limited world, to learn how others perceived the world they lived in, the daily worries that they faced, the beliefs they held. We did our best to notice differences but not necessarily make judgments about their culture unless they violated our own values. Even then, I tried to hold my perceptions lightly.

But now I realize that although there is still much to enjoy in the outer world, that world is transient and ever-changing. Traversing it stimulates my thinking about my own life and the way others live, but it doesn’t hold the appeal it once did. And instead of exploring the outer world, I’ve become much more taken by my inner world.

The inner world offers an endless opportunity to explore relationships, commitment, and connection to G-d. Instead of flying planes, I embark on the journey of contemplation, prayer, and meditation. These efforts are not a 24-hour per day occupation; most of my days are spent doing ordinary things just like most other people. And yet my days are infused with possibility, reminding me that I have an ongoing opportunity to go deeper, to understand more profoundly important questions. Needless to say, acknowledging my gratitude for my life fills me with joy.

*     *     *

So beyond our short Florida or eastern and southern U.S. trips, as well as our cruise next year, I don’t know if we will pursue any other “outer” travels in our future.

I can say that life is fine, with all its ups and down, just as it is.

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  1. Roberto Member
    Roberto
    @Roberto

    Susan Quinn: We had planned a three-week Mediterranean cruise just before the pandemic, and I was looking forward to introducing Jerry to Israel for the first time.

    Not exactly to the point of your post but I can definitely relate to this. I had similar plans just before everyone went insane over the flu. I’m still angry about the hysteria that ensued but I haven’t given up on my plans, they will just take a bit longer to achieve.

    • #1
  2. Susan Quinn Contributor
    Susan Quinn
    @SusanQuinn

    Roberto (View Comment):
    Not exactly to the point of your post but I can definitely relate to this. I had similar plans just before everyone went insane over the flu. I’m still angry about the hysteria that ensued but I haven’t given up on my plans, they will just take a bit longer to achieve.

    Good for you, Roberto. When life messes up our plans, we have to punt! I’m glad to hear that you will persevere. And your comment does relate to my post. Thanks.

    • #2
  3. Franco Member
    Franco
    @Franco

    I’ve traveled a lot and am in the same phase of life (I think) as you. I was completely astonished by the cultures I visited. My first foreign country was at 17 South Vietnam in 1970 on a merchant ship. Then Kobe and Yokahama, Japan. Shocking in a way. I could not comprehend how things could be so different but practical. Or just different. Everything was different. 

    That was in the day when we really had no awareness of life in other countries much at all, and before globalization everything was different every brand, smell, sound, lighting and human interaction was an alternative.

    Then I lived in downtown Cairo for a year at age 25 visiting  my father and younger half-brother. That was very instructive on so many levels I can’t begin…. I didn’t like it. That’s where I learned about the history of the Middle East about Socialism (Egypt is a Socialist country) Islam (to some extent) and world events because there wasn’t much else to do but drink ridiculously strong coffee and read all the newspapers. This was 1979 by the way. Yep that was interesting times.  

    Studied Theatre in Switzerland for four months. Immediately after that year in the middle of one of the most chaotic cities in the world, to this idyllic fantasy world.  I was the only American in class with Germans, Swiss, Italian,s and French. The whole experience was heaven on earth, the medieval town in the Italian-speaking Lakes of Ticino and the Swiss culture, and I was a studying and aspiring 25 year-old.

    I later traveled many times through Europe; Italy and Germany (my wife grew up in Germany and has family there)  and on three occasions I travelled separately to Ireland to learn Irish fiddle and drink Guinness in pubs across County Clare. 

    Last June I visited my friend who lives in Milan, Italy.  It was wonderful to just hang with him and listen to his stories in the opera world of La Scala and discussing things artistic, and going out in the streets of Milano where they live and laugh and get to use my Italian and try to drunkenly describe to them what’s going on in America.  Gli Italiani!

    I went on a cruise once and another time I went to an all inclusive resort in Jamaica. Didn’t really like either as a travel experience. As a nice vacation, yes. My friends and neighbors here go on many vacations in five-star hotels and have a great time, but they have learned little  about the country they visit. 

     

     

    • #3
  4. Susan Quinn Contributor
    Susan Quinn
    @SusanQuinn

    What an incredible life you’ve lived, Franco! You wrote a great post on the Italy trip, didn’t you? I especially liked this part of your comment:

    Franco (View Comment):
    My friends and neighbors here go on many vacations in five-star hotels and have a great time, but they have learned little  about the country they visit. 

    Our cruise will be just a taste, too, and that’s okay.

    • #4
  5. Hang On Member
    Hang On
    @HangOn

    One thing I like with YouTube is time tourism, i.e. seeing cities I got to know but during different periods than I went there or lived there. London, Paris and Rome are easy. So are Berlin and Moscow. It’s interesting to see how both people and places have changed.

    • #5
  6. Susan Quinn Contributor
    Susan Quinn
    @SusanQuinn

    Hang On (View Comment):

    One thing I like with YouTube is time tourism, i.e. seeing cities I got to know but during different periods than I went there or lived there. London, Paris and Rome are easy. So are Berlin and Moscow. It’s interesting to see how both people and places have changed.

    I haven’t heard of those videos, HangOn. It would be fascinating to check them out. Thanks.

    • #6
  7. Illiniguy Member
    Illiniguy
    @Illiniguy

    Great post, Susan. I’ve lived my life backwards, too, having spent part of my early years bicycling around Europe. Then I met my wife, an airline employee, and we availed ourselves of the travel benefits (flying standby during off-peak travel times) by seeing a lot more of the world.

    We’ve now pretty much found our spot, and are at the age (70) where it’s a lot easier to get on a plane and fly 3 hours, take a ferry to the island and stay put for a couple of weeks. During that time, we’ve dug into the local culture, made some friends, and are perfectly content to let the world pass us by. We just got back, but my head’s still there. 

    • #7
  8. Susan Quinn Contributor
    Susan Quinn
    @SusanQuinn

    Illiniguy (View Comment):

    Great post, Susan. I’ve lived my life backwards, too, having spent part of my early years bicycling around Europe. Then I met my wife, an airline employee, and we availed ourselves of the travel benefits (flying standby during off-peak travel times) by seeing a lot more of the world.

    We’ve now pretty much found our spot, and are at the age (70) where it’s a lot easier to get on a plane and fly 3 hours, take a ferry to the island and stay put for a couple of weeks. During that time, we’ve dug into the local culture, made some friends, and are perfectly content to let the world pass us by. We just got back, but my head’s still there.

    I totally get it! I am 72 and not having to stress out to get ready, rush from here to there–it’s a wonderful life. You actually get to pay attention to the world as it passes by slowly, not in a blur! Thanks!

    • #8
  9. Susan Quinn Contributor
    Susan Quinn
    @SusanQuinn

    If anyone is wondering about how my husband feels about long trips, he has a bronchial condition which makes it difficult to him breathe at high altitudes, and compromises his immune system. So those trips aren’t a priority for him, either. Funny how those things work out . . . 

    • #9
  10. Roberto Member
    Roberto
    @Roberto

    Susan Quinn (View Comment):

    Roberto (View Comment):
    Not exactly to the point of your post but I can definitely relate to this. I had similar plans just before everyone went insane over the flu. I’m still angry about the hysteria that ensued but I haven’t given up on my plans, they will just take a bit longer to achieve.

    Good for you, Roberto. When life messes up our plans, we have to punt! I’m glad to hear that you will persevere. And your comment does relate to my post. Thanks.

    I already have a cheerleader Susan, I’m dating her. But thank you for the encouragement.

    • #10
  11. Hang On Member
    Hang On
    @HangOn

    Susan Quinn (View Comment):

    Hang On (View Comment):

    One thing I like with YouTube is time tourism, i.e. seeing cities I got to know but during different periods than I went there or lived there. London, Paris and Rome are easy. So are Berlin and Moscow. It’s interesting to see how both people and places have changed.

    I haven’t heard of those videos, HangOn. It would be fascinating to check them out. Thanks.

    London 1920

    London 1920s

    London during WW2

    Paris 1890s

    London older footage with 2015 contrast footage

    Paris 1940 – German occupation and a German film

    Paris 1920

    Berlin 1927

    Berlin 1945

    Berlin 1945 – aerial view

    Berlin 1965

    Moscow 1908

    Moscow 1950s – this was evidently taken by someone working in US embassy

    Moscow 1965 

     

    You get the idea.

     

     

     

    • #11
  12. Susan Quinn Contributor
    Susan Quinn
    @SusanQuinn

    Hang On (View Comment):
    You get the idea.

    Cool! Thanks!

    • #12
  13. Douglas Pratt Coolidge
    Douglas Pratt
    @DouglasPratt

    Your writing is splendid. I always enjoy it.

    I suspect my own case is the opposite of yours. I am old enough that I can avoid most obligatory travel, and allow my inner hermit free rein. My idea of a vacation is being locked in my shop with someone throwing in a steak or bbq sandwich twice a day.

    • #13
  14. Susan Quinn Contributor
    Susan Quinn
    @SusanQuinn

    Douglas Pratt (View Comment):

    Your writing is splendid. I always enjoy it.

    I suspect my own case is the opposite of yours. I am old enough that I can avoid most obligatory travel, and allow my inner hermit free rein. My idea of a vacation is being locked in my shop with someone throwing in a steak or bbq sandwich twice a day.

    That sounds pretty good to me, too! Although, not often . . . ;-)

    • #14
  15. Phil Turmel Coolidge
    Phil Turmel
    @PhilTurmel

    Douglas Pratt (View Comment):

    Your writing is splendid. I always enjoy it.

    I suspect my own case is the opposite of yours. I am old enough that I can avoid most obligatory travel, and allow my inner hermit free rein. My idea of a vacation is being locked in my shop with someone throwing in a steak or bbq sandwich twice a day.

    Hah!  That sounds wonderful!

    { Says the guy posting from the TGV to Bordeaux… }

    • #15
  16. Jerry Giordano (Arizona Patriot) Member
    Jerry Giordano (Arizona Patriot)
    @ArizonaPatriot

    Isn’t there a story about this?  The Wizard of Oz, perhaps?

    • #16
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