The Travel Best Spent

Travel is like precious coins. Each time we decide to go, we spend a few on a destination. We should choose so carefully because the place we end up may not be what we bargained for and what the trip itself led us to believe. For many years I traveled for work across the Pacific to places like Sydney, Vietnam, Japan, India, Singapore. In the case of India, I lived there for almost an entire year in 2009 and visited quite often from 2008 to 2011. I stopped in Singapore just as often since the flights all ended there but also because we had an office there and I managed a team that crossed the Pacific from Fremont to Singapore to Chennai.

But it was the travel most of all. The getting there. Those moments where I was not here or there. In 2011 sitting quietly in Changi Airport with a bagel sandwich and coffee with no real place to go but a walk. In most places it was the walk which somehow accompanied the work. Each place had something to give as long as I had something to give.

Truth be told I have not traveled to Asia since 2011. Sometimes it feels horribly wrong. Like I am missing a thing which I took for granted for so many years. Most of all, I think its the gut wrenching feel of getting old and not seeing the places that were in-between the other places which marked my life. We don’t get years back and I lost some through divorce and not standing up for my rights. Too late, I mutter sometimes. Too late to get them back and my body ages. It reminds me of a song lyric from Cat Stevens,

Miles from nowhere
I guess I’ll take my time
Oh yeah, to reach there

Look up at the mountain
I have to climb
Oh yeah, to reach there.

Lord my body has been a good friend
But I won’t need it when I reach the end

Miles from nowhere
I guess I’ll take my time
Oh yeah, to reach there

I creep through the valleys
And I grope through the woods
‘Cause I know when I find it my honey
It’s gonna make me feel good, yes

I love everything
So don’t it make you feel sad
‘Cause I’ll drink to you, my baby
I’ll think to that, I’ll think to that.

Miles from nowhere
Not a soul in sight
Oh yeah, but it’s alright

I have my freedom
I can make my own rules
Oh yes, the ones that I choose

Lord my body has been a good friend
But I won’t need it when I reach the end

I love everything
So don’t it make you feel sad
‘Cause I’ll drink to you, my baby
I’ll think to that, I’ll think to that.
Oh yeah

Miles from nowhere
Guess I’ll take my time
Oh yeah, to reach there.

–Cat Stevens or Yusuf Islam, Miles from Nowhere

So it captures it all but it still leaves some essence of it all. I’ve made the rules and I have freedom. I just have lost and gained and found myself. Now I will still leave for those miles and find Asia beyond another door that is closed for now.

Travel is like coins well spent my friends. We have only moments to use them and each trip is like a bank of memories with pictures forming the horizons, words becoming the currency, memories stretching from then to now. Spend wisely that budget and remember its never the destination although it counts. Its the movement that my soul and heart and mind requires. The walking of a path in Tokyo or a sidewalk in Kyoto. Elections and winners and losers are just harbingers. Its truly where the feet find themselves on concrete or dreams.