Or maybe we find that they scare us less, those old fears, only to be replaced by profounder, less nameable fears. I am talking here about the kind of fear that makes us reckless, not wary, the fear that gives us nerve; the fear that keeps youths bouncing from city to city, that makes spouses stray, that makes thrill junkies and wanderlusters of us all; the fear that has me, this very moment, packing my bags with my eyes on another continent, a different world.
I am talking about the fear of the middle, of the assigned path; the fear that our lives may never achieve the ecstasies demanded by the brevity of our time here. This is the fear of our built-in narratives and the yearning for greater, unspeakable narratives.
Or maybe fear is not what I am talking about at all–maybe I’m talking only about yearning. In fact I think I am. I am talking about a longing deep and still as a soul, cruel and unrepentant as a hawk’s eyes. The longing that keeps us moving, that makes our lives happen.
Today I am packing my bags to go to Thailand. I am packing a suitcase full of persimmons plucked from a family tree. Persimmons are loved there, loved and costly. They are a gift.
I have told you why I am going, reader, but know that I don’t expect to find the answer to longing there. What I expect is simpler–that I’ll see monkeys, for instance. I expect to eat grasshoppers. I expect to lose weight. I expect to be offered some very potent weed.
And I am beginning to understand, even before I leave, why travel is not the great medium for self-discovery it is too often reputed to be: it is hard to see past the eating of the insects and the riding of the elephants, to see past the exotic and the strange, to look into what is really there, if that is even possible. I will let you know.
And I’ll be seeing you, reader.