As I was struggling with what to write today , I received the following text from my mom:
“What do you expect, anticipate gaining from all your travels? What will you give?
Huh? Where did that come from? I was tempted to just let that message sit there on my phone without answering it, but the question kept playing in my head, so I figured I’d answer it here on the blog.
I think part of me is heading out on the road again because it is what feels natural or right to me. Like a performer feels that they should be on stage or a scientist feels they should be in the lab, I feel like my place is somewhere in a foreign land. I love my home in Los Angeles and I have no desire to give it up totally, but still I feel the need to leave and explore from time to time. So, part of the reason I am traveling is not because of a specific expectation but more of a general desire to get on a plane, train or boat to somewhere.
So, do I have expectations or anticipations for my travels? Sure! My true hope is that when I fly home on August 30, I will have a clear idea of what I want to do next. I can easily point to what I don’t want to do. I don’t want to spend my days in a cubicle following a dream that is not mine. But not sitting in a cubicle is not a career, it is simply one descriptor of what my dream job will be. I also know that I somehow want my next career to be related to travel and international relations, but as for an exact job title, it is still not clear to me. So I want to use this time on the road to speak to as many people as possible, to gather ideas and to continue exploring my writing and photography in the hopes of defining what I want to do for a living (living being the key word).
I also expect to come back changed in some way. That I’ll have a better understanding of the world in some small way. That I’ll have met important new friends and one special new romance. That I will be more patient with people and forgiving of situations. That I will also be more patient and forgiving of myself. I’m not sure how traveling will necessarily bring me to this point, but still that is my expectation.
As for “what will I give”…well, that’s a little harder. I selfishly tend to think of what I’ll get from traveling. I’ll get new experiences, writing experience, a new perspective on my place in the world. But what will I give back?
I have always planned to include volunteer work in my travels, especially in Lebanon where I’ll spend two full months and can have the most impact. But what else can I give? Travel advice, time, Capoeira instruction? These are all things I can give if I find a recipient.
Mom may have stumped me with that question, but I now will make a better effort to seek out ways to give. For my traveling friends, what are ways that you’ve been able to give back while you’re on the road or even after you’ve returned? I’d love some ideas so I can make the most of my time out there.