Excursion - the inner journey, or where do I travel inside myself?
A Polish journalist, whose name I once knew but unfortunately forgot, wrote the following about the travelling man: „With each border we cross, we approach a piece towards ourselves. “
This consideration, as well as numerous own experiences and thoughts have induced me to write an excursion about the journey inside ourselves. Certainly all the things I write only represent own feelings and perceptions and thus have no general validity. However, probably it may cause some amusement or inspire one or the other.
I would like to regard the thing from at home for the beginning. At this place, or at least in its proximity we attend to an activity, which secures our present and future materially. In whatever kind of way.
Maslows pyramid of desires explains the background of this system very well.
As basic needs these things are considered which secure our surviving and well-being, being issued at short notice. Just as food, drinking and sleeping. We constantly cover these things in form of a used routine, consciously or unconsciously.
If these basic needs are ensured, our needs climb up one or more stages. We build new contacts, improve our training and education and achieve social developments.
In Central Europe these conditions are settled quite highly, particularly compared to countries of the third world. In principle the high prosperity through education and social systems lets the possibilities and thus also our desires climb upward very far.
Caused by it, often follows the demand to represent the reached through status symbols. Egomotives move into the foreground and easily displace some basic needs as love and security.
A modern society aims at success and acknowledgment, but often has simply no longer the time, between quantifiable successes and achievements, to experience the following Goethe quotation in its meaning: “Ich ging im Wald so für mich hin, nichts zu suchen war mein Sinn.”
That is my background and from there on my journeys started. This as a short introduction.
Many things may rubb off the individual to go on a journey. No matter whether it is for far away or one gets on the way to reach any other goal, it is many things, which often cannot be more different at all. Also, only to focus on some of them would blow up any frame.
A journey is something more simple to explain, mathematically seen. A body moves between two or several points and spends time covering the distances, dependent on the component of speed. Mathematicians may forgive me possible errors and my lack of understanding, but in theory it is what happens.
It is a fact though, as a traveler one rarely has got the feeling to be a mathematically calculateable body.
Much more the template of the geometrically assignable form is lost quickly and the road leads to an unexpected place. Into the inner soul!
Often the first step is the most difficult one. Not to use use too much mathematics again, or this time better physics, to endeavor and to explain the phenomenon of the first step one can imagine a trainwagon. If it rolls, then it rolls. To get the wagon rolling is however connected with force. Force, in order to accelerate the mass over initial resistance. This same rule naturally applies to New Year’s promisses and Training Plans for the reduction of the body weight;)
Each journey becomes real by the first step and much more by the final decision to do it.
A proverb says the following.
Pay attention to your thoughts, they become words.
Pay attention to your words, they become acts
Pay attention to your acts, they become habits
Pay attention to your habits, they become your fate
Once the decision to get on the way is really made, the stone has started rolling.
The principle is very simple, only the speed, in which this proverb will sometimes come true can be nearly frightening.
Once , like so often, I rode home on my bicycle from work late at night.
The motorway with the humming noise of night traffic was next to me and over my head the monn brightly radiated into the summernight. The concert of the crickets sounded loud from the shrub bushes and the air smelled pleasantly from damp grass.
What a great moment that was. Now I sit in the middle of Africa, south of the Equator and I experience this night in thoughts, as if it would have been only yesterday.
But back to my nocturnal bicycle ride, where were my thoughts at that time? How often did I spot myself trying to imagine how it would be in Africa, or how different the nocturnal noises of the rain forest probably could be. These thoughts found their way and finally sent me on the journey. Perhaps only, because I did not displace them.
The Roman poet Ovid once wrote about the art of traveling, similarly as he wrote about the art of love in his Ars Amatoria.
It pointed out the importance of the moment and particularly the necessity to abbandon all diverting thoughts and sorrows before the start of a journey to be able to experience it as it will happen.
This realization strongly gains significance in our fast and mobile time.
Away from the familiar places, the friends, the acquaintances and the family, usually an enormous space opens up before the traveler. This area is well comparable to new country, which one wants to discover.
Often I spent whole nights with preparing my travel route to gather as much information as possible. Good preparation is important, for sure.
The most important preparation, and I had to experience that more than only once, is to lose the fear of the uncertainty and the large unknown before you.
That may sound more simple, than it actually is. Who goes is gone and alone. Nothing is like it was and no habit and routine has its familiar validity.
Each new day requires new adjustment respective to the situation, new self organization and of course improvisation.
Recently I was heading towards Point Noir. Lightnings twitched over the horizon and an enormous thunderstorm cleared its way over the Congo. The rain forest swallowed the downcoming tides under its enomous roof and the piste lay before me like an endlessly winding long and green tunnel.
The dark ruts and pot holes filled with water made my mind drift away and a feeling of concern and fear began to strike me.
I automatically and reliably moved the motorcycle around the water holes, but for me they soon became enormous, black seas, around which I had to negotiate my way.
In the forest it became darker and lightnings came down like stroboscopes, which let appear some jungle trees as huge monsters.
What was happening with me? I drove through a thunderstorm and it felt like I arrived at the end of the world and my days at the same time. Surely, the thunderstorm was rough, but why did it deteriorate me in such a way?
What happened in the Western Sahara 3 months ago, when suddenly a feeling of fear struck me on a good tarmac road and would not want to go away again for a hole day.
Before me was nothing than sand and sun and beside me the Atlantic gently broke its waves to the coast. Nevertheless I felt in danger, even if I could not find a real cause for it.
A similar thing happened to me in Venice many years ago, I was on an evening walk and went by a house. This house was arc-shape built over the road and one could look into the windows from downside. More coincidentally than intended my eyes moved over to the white curtains. In the light of the lantern they appeared old and shabby. Suddenly all my body hair set up itself and a feeling of horror came up inside me.
I did not walk through the arc then and found another way back to the hotel.
When I again visited the place in the next morning, everything was normal. A beautiful house with beautiful curtains, that was everything I could see.
It took me a very long time, until I could figure out a reason for these unpleasant perceptions and fears.
There are some characteristic fears and unmachined things that everyone has got inside.
In familiar situations, as we experience them at home, these partially subconscious feelings are much too weak to be noticed.
In the enormous and unknown space a journey often brings along, they can step out every now and then and appear very strongly.
Who arrives at this point, has come to the dialogue with himself, deep inside the inner soul.
When I accepted these fears for the first time, without trying to chase them away, they were suddenly gone. Just like that, and my tendency was going up again.
Ted Simon, a British journalist, who rode his motorbike around the world in the early 70's, reported of similar feelings in his book.
Whenever he drove his bike through a rainstorm, he had the feeling to fight against something inside himself. Similar to Cervantes Don Quichotte, who saw monsters in the windmills.
These perceptions happen on journeys, and they represent the journey to ourselves.