Yesterday afternoon, while eating enchiladas in Brooklyn, a friend of a friend asked me a very simple question.
He asked me, “Why are you traveling to the Middle East?”
At first, I didn’t hesitate to give an answer. I began talking about my interest in the education that travel offers and how the Middle East is a region of the world that frankly, I just don’t know too much about. I went on to say that instead of reading about such places as Turkey, Syria and Lebanon in the newspaper (do people even read newspapers anymore?), I’d prefer to just show up to those countries and try and learn as much as possible for myself.
And that was the end of the conversation.
However, a few hours later, while I was sitting on the sofa at my friend’s apartment, I heard a song that I hadn’t heard in a long, long time. It was a song by the group Clem Snide and as soon as I began listening to the words, I had an interesting realization.
Sure, I love that “first-hand education that world exploration provides” that I always mention, but I suddenly understood that this concept does not constitute the core of my need to travel. There is something much greater at work here.
What I truly love most about travel, as made clear to me by Clem Snide, is the UNKNOWN.
Yes, “I love the unknown. I love the unknown. He says he loves the unknown.”
It is the unknown that I look forward to most in all of my adventures. It is the unknown that encompasses the education I seek, the human interactions I enjoy, the shocks to the senses I experience and the challenges I endure.
I love having no idea what is going to happen tomorrow or the next day or the day after that. I love the fact that there are people out there right now who have no idea that our paths are going to cross in Turkey this week or in some other land at some point in the future. I love not knowing where I will be eating, where I will be sleeping or what it will feel like to wander the streets of Istanbul’s Old City.
And while not having any idea how I will get from Ataturk International Airport into the city center tomorrow (heck, I don’t even know what part of the city I’ll be headed to yet!) may sound a bit frightening, I am also fascinated at the same time by the unlimited possibilities that lie ahead.
Again, I love the unknown.
Of course, I’m nervous as well! I still get nervous before starting any travels, just as a performer may get nervous every time they step on stage. (Last night, my last night in the US, I think I managed to sleep for only about an hour!) But with every moment that passes and ever step that takes place – the flight, the arrival, the ride into the city, the meeting of people, etc. – the confidence is sure to grow and what was once the unknown may suddenly become a rewarding moment, a lasting memory or a life-changing experience.
So I guess by the time you’re reading this, I’ll be on my flight to Turkey or perhaps already in Istanbul. And while I clearly don’t have any clue as to where this adventure will lead, I sure hope you’ll stick around for the journey!
Here’s the Clem Snide song I mentioned above…enjoy!