I am currently reading Alan Booth's excellent travelogue "The Roads to Sata". Previous to this I devoured William Dalrymple's superb "Age of Kali" and recently finished Josie Dew's irrepressible "A Ride in the Neon Sun". I've read Benedict Allen's "Mad White Giant", "Last of the Medicine Men" and "The Edge of Blue Heaven". There are countless more. All of these books are about journeys, through landscapes, through cultures, through the past and the intertwined mythology of the present. They are, invariably, about a solitary figure stepping into the wider world; observational, intuitive, remarkable. The simple act of the journey forces them to see the world around them in all its layers, the mix of humanity, the imprint of environment and climate upon the psyche, the ravages of the irrational past projected into the today. They are about the appreciation of the light and the dark, the insane and the beautiful. Theirs is the eye upon the world, judging, receiving, contemplating.
There is something about a journey, about the mingling of one's time into the ether, about the diligence of a step, or the turn of a wheel, about the sight seen, the sound heard, the senses in all their varieties tested and stimulated. There is something about the unending movement forward, to destinations and signposts that fade into the whole. It is about the sensation of travel, the rocking of the boat, the fleetness of the wheel, the steadiness of the foot. It is about a singular awareness at once both removed and integral.
It is about the endless road, the trackless path. It is about decisions made, the die cast, trusting to the wind and good fortune. It is about abandoning everything we hold dear, about letting go, about being hostage to the kindness of others and the calmness of self. It is about a peculiar kind of freedom, absented from the world left behind, bound by rules and customs of a different ilk. It is about being part of and being apart from.
It is simply about being.
There are days when the need to journey near overwhelms me. There are days when the first step is the one almost taken, when I am ready to throw of the shackles of my own making, when I am ready to abscond and depart, when the call of the wild outweighs the siren song of security.
In me there exists a dervish, whirling and wild, spinning madly in a frenzy of dreams and desires. In me is the moment just put off, eternally waiting for me to reach it, to make that decision, to abandon ship, call it a day, to take a different step into the forever.
I want the road, I have always wanted the road. Even the most homely of homes has not been my home. I have simply stayed when I perhaps should have gone. The whisper and the song are beguiling and seductive, the throaty voice of the not-here and the not-now.
And year by year, day by day, the dervish whirls and the pressure builds, the dance of the road draws nearer.
One day I won't be here. One day I won't be anywhere. I will be on the road, living in the now and the here and the moment, one eye to the horizon, taking each step as the first of many. One day I will be on a journey to destinations uncounted, lands and seas and mountains high my gateways to the evermore. One day I may even be finally me.