Wherever you go, there you are

March 14, 2011

I had full intentions of writing something new today, but as I opened up my WordPress “dashboard” to clean out the half-dozen sentence-long drafts, I came across this little gem that I never got around to posting. It’d be a shame to let it go to waste, and my reflecting on trips weeks (or months) after they happen is hardly uncharacteristic. So, everyone pretend that it’s January 24th and enjoy:

guy alone at the airport terminal

You'll eventually figure out what you're doing there, but not until you get back.

…perhaps admiration for his journey does not preclude a degree of sympathy for those who, in fascinating cities, have occasionally been visited by a strong wish to remain in bed and take the next flight home.”

Andre de Button, from “The Art of Travel”

The most stressful part of travel just may be figuring out how to enjoy it. For the last few weeks any mention of my eminent South American excursion was met nothing but unbridled enthusiasm and jealousy.  In response, all I could think was, “wow, I hope I can figure out how to enjoy it as much as you would.” I had a pretty good idea of what was going to (and did) happen. After a lengthy plane ride, the plane touched down in Buenos Aires. I paid for my visa, picked up my luggage, and stepped out of the airport to be struck by the feeling that…I was in another country.

That’s it.

Sure, it’s stimulating (and a little overwhelming) to look around and play “look what’s different” as we depart the airport. It seems slightly ingenuine to have an embassy escort everywhere I go, but it beats the utter terror I imagine of trying to get around myself.  I’m a horrible tourist, and it makes me feel more comfortable knowing that I’ve got a definite objective beyond “be there and enjoy it.” Now don’t get me wrong, I still enjoy this adventure I’m on, I’m just glad I don’t have to deal with the pressure of my own expectations of how much I’m supposed to enjoy it.

I have to admit, this sense of purpose (“oh, I’m a performer in the folk festival…”) has become really the foundation of my experience to the point that I couldn’t imagine traveling without it. I couldn’t in months—let alone days—become possessive of any aspect of Argentina, so really all I’m left with are isolated moments, places, and even transits that I could really call my own. I’d even grant a certain degree of possessiveness to my bandmates who recognized the Buenos Aires terminal that they had spent a half day in on two separate occasions.

Without my objective, what else do I have of my own? Of course, there’s the universal language of pop music, Coca Cola, and credit cards that seems to follow everywhere,  hovering above our heads and ready to annihilate our sense of time and place. Perhaps one day, it will. In the meantime, I’ll enjoy not knowing what I’m supposed to do or feel, and leave that concern for another day.

***Update 3/14/2011***

Ah, I’m supposed to play a show for 15,000 people and feel awesome about it. Done.

I knew I’d figure it out eventually.

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