Since booking my flight to the Philippines, I’ve been thinking about traveling… A LOT. Since my epic summer abroad in Europe back in 2008, I’ve been consumed by the urge to be constantly on the move. For three years, I wasn’t able to satisfy that urge as I was holding down a full-time position in the cell phone industry. Sure, I had little escapes to California, British Columbia, and even a summer working in New Jersey. But it wasn’t ‘travel’ to me. Those mini escapes were so fleeting… it just wasn’t enough. I wanted something more.
Fast forward to 9 months ago. I finally made the decision to travel overseas and teach English in South Korea… a job I NEVER thought I would even consider until a few years ago. For me, teaching English was merely a method to get me overseas at no cost to myself. Luckily, it’s turned out to be something I enjoy. Still, the best thing is that it’s gotten me to a corner of the world previously unknown to me and given me opportunities to explore to my heart’s content.
I had a conversation with Danny – a good friend of mine here in Pohang – last night while we were camping that was really interesting. He asked me, “If you could be in any movie reality, which one would you choose and what character would you be?” The obvious answers were Lord of the Rings and Star Wars, which were brought up by Danny and Mike; so to say something different I went with the Matrix. Nathan Anderson… Mr. Anderson… the One… See the logic? It’d be pretty freakin’ cool.
Anyways, from there the conversation turned to the Star Wars universe, movies, and books in general. One of the reasons Danny and I both love Star Wars so much is the rich universe that has been developed for the story. It’s a great place to escape to and let your imagination go wild.
Growing up, I was always buried in books. I’d read instead of study; even if it was during class. I walked the halls of school with my nose buried in a book, navigating by memory and watching the floor in my periphery to make sure I didn’t run into a wall. One winter, when the library was closed for renovation, I got a shopping cart full of books to sustain me. And I read all of them except one. Yup… I was that kid in grade school, middle school, high school, college… well, pretty much my whole life.
When I think about why I read so much, I know a lot of it was because I loved the stories. I loved learning new things and hearing fantastic tales of adventure and courage. But more than that, I loved the escape they provided. Not that my life was miserable and I needed to escape… far from it! I was just so fascinated by all the worlds that opened up when you flipped through the pages of a book. I still am.
Recently, however, I’ve noticed I haven’t been reading as much. I still make it through books (I’ve read 3 or 4 this month) but not with the same voracity I usually do. Why is that? I’m definitely busier than I used to be, but that’s not it… I still have plenty of down time where I just listen to music or sit around like a vegetable.
I think the main reason is that I’m already escaping reality. I’m living and working in a foreign country, exploring, having fun, and – quite frankly – hardly having a care in the world. I’m not thinking about saving for retirement, a house, or to start a family. I’m not trying for a promotion or worrying about the price of oil. I’m just here… and don’t feel any rush to get back to the stressful lifestyle that seems to be so popular back home. Looking at things that way, I can see why I don’t feel the need to read as much. With so many new, fresh, and exciting experiences – as well as the stripping away of stress and obligations – my thirst for escape and novelty is quenched… if only for the moment.
That’s why I love travel. It’s something new. It’s exciting. It gets you away from the monotony of everything you’ve known and throws unexpected and wonderful situations your way. It let’s you take your reality and reshape into something that’s as fluid and dynamic as the sea. It exercises your mind, strengthens your heart, and heals your soul. Every person has their own path; but my wish for myself is for that path to be long, winding, dangerous, and beautiful. If that can be my reality, I will truly be a happy man.
Moral of the story: if your reality is good enough to be a book; live it and love it!!
Me and the Spitzner clan on a hike at Bogyeongsa (sans Courtney)
Random fire spinning dude from Daegu
Joe and I. Hahaha
We found a trampoline!