I was talking to my Dad yesterday (I live in Ireland and he lives in Australia) and he said ‘You haven’t written anything in your blog for a while’.
Now this tickles me on a number of levels:
My Dad’s not that interested in computers or the online world but he loves me and got my brother Marc who was visiting from Singapore (and is the blogger for Creative Spark) to subscribe to our blogs. He’s interested in my life and this blog is another way of seeing it.
Marc wrote something a while ago on his blog (and I can’t link you to it at the moment because the tool bar to write my blogs has gone strange and I can’t work out how to link to him) about all the different ways that we communicate and keep in touch with the people we love. My blog is one way. Email, phone and face to face are the others (I can’t quite get my head around a camera on my computer – I really don’t want to see who I’m talking to).
Dad and I talk a lot on the phone. I love how his voice goes happy when he knows it’s me. We both love catching up on each others lives. He was born in Ireland and I enjoy hearing stories of his life and what Ireland was like then. He’s always interested in my work and what I’m up to – and – as far as he’s concerned – as long as I’m happy, he’s happy. And, we always end our chats by telling each other ‘love you’. My Pa is very very special to me and provides all sorts of inspiration. I won’t list all the things I love and respect about him because he’ll read this and be embarrassed. Suffice to say, Dad (and my brothers) raised a pretty high bar for the kind of man I’d like to share my life with.
Marc and I email pretty much every day and very rarely talk on the phone. We share all sorts of ideas and thoughts and he inspires and supports me in so many ways. He’s a delight and I love him very much. He’s also a damn fine writer.
So, what’s this got to do with travelling? Good question my trusty reader.
Me, my Pa and Marc all live in different countries and at certain points in our lives we left our homes and went to live in other places. Me to Ireland from Oz. Dad from Ireland to New Zealand then back to Ireland for a year then to Oz. Marc from Oz to Singapore.
Before I moved from West Australia to Ireland in 1993 at the age of 34, I had lived in WA since I was 7 years old. I hadn’t been out of the state, let alone the country. I was a little odd in that way as most Australians travel at the drop of a hat. Before I was 7 I had lived in 3 countries.
At a pub recently my friends were talking about their travels – to India, China, Africa, Eastern Europe. They talked with real passion and pleasure about long train/bus journeys – hoards of people – the music – the landscape – the food – the experiences. I loved listening to their memories and their dreams of further long travels. They asked me ‘Liz, would you like to go to India/China?’. I told them that my idea of roughing it was going from 5 star to 4 star!
Now just in case you think I’m a bit of a princess – I can do discomfort. I’ve camped and abseiled and single kayak white water rafted. If you’ve ever travelled on the Sligo to Dublin train you’d know about discomfort – and I do that nearly every week.
I have no wish to take months or years off and go wandering around the world. I respect and enjoy people who do. I am currently reading 3 books about different people’s travels and really enjoying them.
As I ruminated on the whole topic of travelling I asked myself – what do people seek when they travel?
new experiences; new people; to understand and see difference; a sense of personal exploration; the unexpected; contact and connection; fab land/sea/airscapes;new sensations.
As I explored the idea of travelling I realised that my work of over 20 years has been a form of travelling. For 10 years I worked in over 40 or 50 Shires of WA – in countless geographic and issue based communities. And, as a child my family moved every few years as Dad got promotions. And I was always the new kid in the schoolyard. Since moving to Ireland 14 years ago I have worked in nearly every County and with so many different people. I’ve also lived in Dublin, Sligo and now Ballinamore.
And in every town and in every group I was initially a stranger – even if the community was just down the road (which in WA rural travel terms could be hundreds of kilometers). Being a stranger in your own backyard can be just as challenging as being an obvious stranger/traveller in India or China.
Meeting and working with so many people and communities has given me all the experiences that more obvious travellers seek. I’m constantly meeting new people; having new experiences; learning about myself; seeing amazing land/sea scapes; meeting the unexpected; living and respecting difference.All pretty much in my own backyard. I just don’t get to send postcards.
I’m a different kind of traveller.
I’ve also realised in writing this blog that I tend to travel forward and not back – both physically and emotionally. I don’t go back to relationships that have ended. I won’t move back permanently to Oz – although I treasure every visit I can make to family and friends (roll on Xmas). I’m much more present and future oriented and don’t tend to dwell too much on the past.
I will always travel to and with the people I love. That’s the kind of traveller I am.