Updated: Mar 12, 2021
I found this blog that I wrote on Jan 6th 2015; I had thought I had not finished it and that I was going to go back and edit it. I found it today and, to my surprise, it was finished. There was just one small paragraph that was needed to connect two parts, but the main text was all there. So, here it is: the lost blog.
"Two roads diverged in a wood, and I,
I took the one less travelled by,
And that has made all the difference."
I left France almost 16 years ago now, another year and I will have lived away from my birth country as long as I have lived in it. I first moved to the UK at 19 after deciding that I was displeased by the curriculum of the degree I had started in France in American and English history. I had thoughts of visiting the UK (being so close to it) but we never did, so I took it upon myself to go, originally for 3 months which turned into 7 years :) At 25, after going on holiday to New York with a friend of mine I knew I wanted to live there, and so I moved to NY a year later with only a suitcase and a $1000. I travelled back and forth for the first couple of years from NY to France and the UK. On one of my trips back to France I asked my mum what she thought about my travels. She had been very supportive, and she had known I was not going to come back to live in France long before I even realised myself. During our conversation I asked her if she thought that, perhaps, I was travelling to escape something rather than searching for myself or something like I had thought I was doing. She answered that only I could answer that question.
I have kept on travelling since that day with my mum, sometimes for work, other times for holiday, and other times to stay for a while. I moved again in December of last year and for the first time in a long time I did not have somewhere planned to go to so here I am- in transit and with some time to reflect.
I have a true love and passion for travelling, so I have no doubt that it would have always been a part of my life. It also runs in my family; both my sister and my mum have travelled the world a bit. I love experiencing new cultures and learning about other languages. A part of me loves to be a stranger somewhere where everything is new. There is something very freeing in that. I have thought about the above mentioned question a lot since asking my mum but, until now, I have lacked perspective. I know now that, when I travel, there is as much a desire to escape as there is to find myself. After all, how far do you need to go to find yourself?... You are already here. Of course my journey so far (which by no means has been easy) has made me the person I am now but the question of the road not taken sometime still begs.
Taking the road less travelled nearest to us right now is sometimes all that is needed to ignite or renew a love for the simple things in life. Things that, more often than not, we have developed the bad habit to take for granted. Getting lost on purpose in one's home town can lead to wonderful hidden gems and places we never knew were there because of a routine we forgot to break. Our dependence on time results in us favouring shorter everything: the shortest way home, the shortest way to work, to the gym and so on. Driven by convenience we make our world shorter and smaller; because time is a precious thing we want to make the most of. Ironically, by trying to save time we cut ourselves short of time spent exploring what is around us. The off beaten track can be very close to us but what is right in front of us can be the hardest thing to see at times.
When we think of adventure it often entails taking a trip somewhere we have never been before. Places closest to us physically, over time, often fade away into the background of our everyday routine, taken over by work, family and the need to build a life for ourselves. In the rush of living we may overlook the beauty already around us. Although travelling great distances is a great pleasure that should be enjoyed by all if given the opportunity, it is not always required in order to experience new adventures. I have come to realise that, inevitably, the road that is not taken becomes the road less travelled; not by others but by myself.
I recently relocated to Seville a few weeks ago and, although I have only been here a few weeks, I have already found a little place of peace and quiet not far from where I live. Suffice to say that there are only so many ways to get there, and I have already walked all of them. Then, recently, I had planned to go to the said place and sit there to enjoy the beautiful Spanish sun having evidently already fallen into a routine of my own. However, on that day, I asked my mum to join me on my walk. She has been suffering with an acute form of rheumatoid arthritis for the past couple of years (an autoimmune disease whereby your body attacks itself weakening the immune system and, in the case of my mother, creating excruciating pains in the joints, mainly her knees, hips and shoulders) which makes it impossible for her to sit down on the floor. Therefore, we walked to my sunny spot, stopped for a few minutes before we had to keep going again as there was no bench or anywhere comfortable for her to sit and enjoy the view or the sun. We talked while walking for a while then stopped for her to sit.
At that point we had walked as far as I had ever gone on that path; I asked her if she wanted to go home or keep going, and she said "let's keep walking" so we kept walking, in silence this time, enjoying the sounds of nature surrounding us, from time to time interrupted by a fellow wanderer. The further we walked, the more enchanting the path became, lined by palm trees, bridges and esplanades leading out to the water. For weeks now I had followed the same path, turning at the same bridge to return home when a further 500 meters away there was an even more wonderful scenery awaiting to be seen. A few times now I have re-discovered cities I had lived in for a while because of visiting friends and family who helped me see it through their eyes. I'm a very bad tourist. In fact, I never do touristic things when I first arrive to a country or city; It's usually when friends or family visit me (If I am somewhere on a more long term period) that I start looking up 'interesting' things to do. I just have a hard time dealing with the queues and the crowd, so I like to have a good reason to go through that experience. Instead, I like to go and wander around aimlessly and stumble upon things and places randomly. It has led me to wonderful, more unexpected experiences although, respectively, it has deprived me of what I consider the obvious map of a city. I like to think of cities as a drawing game, where you have to connect the dots in order for the bigger picture to slowly emerge onto the page. To emerge and to make sense. Exploring does not have to take you miles away from home, wherever that home is, but that is often what we seek to the detriment of finding out what is right there.
I do not have any plans to go anywhere right now but perhaps this is where I need to be, close to me (my one and only home) and stop for a moment to truly explore what has been there all along but never really seen... My road less travelled.