“Space has a spiritual equivalent and can heal what is divided and burdensome in us.”
~Gretel Ehrlich, The Solace of Open Spaces
Why do I travel?
There are three parts to this answer, each of which on its own, could be a complete response depending on the reader's own experience.
First, I travel to find my expressions… my art. Art, in its barest form, is our soul’s response to all that churn us. Question us. Make us wonder and contemplate. Truest art – Gretel Ehrlich argued and I humbly concur – would have the same qualities as earth. They would weather harshness and time, hide their deepest message for those with the tenderest light, allow the wind to wipe out its frivolities, and be obtuse and worthless to the vain and the less experienced. From my travels, I learned another important aspect of art: it must be manifested – just as mountains stand and rivers flow – irrespective of having patrons or appreciation. It is purely an assertion of being alive, which transcends the medium of expression and is bounded by no limits… a miniature replica of open spaces that kindles it genesis in the first place.
Second, I travel for my son. I have often wondered, what would I want to leave behind with Rishabh when my impermanence materializes? Not riches, nor stories… he can earn them on his own. I rather leave him with lessons that come our way during our travels. Like waterfalls, we must embrace unavoidable falls in life with grace. Like butterflies, we must explore and migrate to the unknown following our instincts. Most importantly, like Saguaros and Joshua-s, we must endure harshness and despair, because they – as Ehrlich pointed out – empty out into an unquenchable appetite for life.
Third, I travel to find solace. After losing her dearest to an incurable disease, Ehrlich – a former urbanite, found her solace in nature and wrote 'The Solace of Open Space'. Stuck to my griefs, I tend to forget that life is a continuous ceremony of seasons, where – as Ehrlich puts it – “the paradox is exquisite.” New leaves of spring must fall in autumn so that emptiness may harbor hopes of another spring. In Hawai’i, I saw first-hand how the fragile land endures great loss when lava erupts from volcanoes and ruins everything in its path. But, punctuating the devastation, I also saw life protruding tenderly in those jagged lava rocks as soft seedlings. In Ehrlich’s words, ”to be tough is to be fragile; to be tender is to be truly fierce.” Out in raw wind under the warming sun, I have come to realize that my griefs are not the end of me; instead my pains and losses are, in her words, an odd kind of fullness. To quote Ehrlich again, “True solace is finding none, which is to say, it is everywhere.”
So, I travel. As often as I can. As far and as wide as I can.