When I was younger, I was obsessed by the idea of being anywhere but where I was. Why stay in New Jersey, I would think to myself, when there was almost an infinite amount to be seen outside of my known world. My imagination was also spoiled when I was little – my mom, or dad, or brothers would read to me stories of Greek myths, Tolkien, and His Dark Materials. My entire world view was based on the idea that sitting still in one place was almost sinful.
To need to explore seemed like a default state of nature to me. By the time I reached high school, explorers and drifters had become heroes of mine. Almost eight years after first learning about Ibn Battuta, for instance, I am still hard pressed to think of someone who I admire more. I mean, the man spent the second half of his life traveling from Morroco to Mecca, down the East coast of Africa, back to Turkey, and then all the way to China. Oh, and he did it in all in the 14th century – and got rich because of it! Who could pass up the chance to explore in the face of the amazement of something like that?
I like to think that I have made the most out of any chance to explore so far in my life. I have been to 4 continents, the Arctic Circle, and I have lived in Turkey – even if it was only for 2 months. I definitely have not let chances pass me by, but I am afraid. I graduate in two months and after that, if I manage to find a job, my dreams of long-term traveling seem to be mostly dead. I am waiting to hear back about the Fulbright Grant, which would allow me to live in Turkey for another nine months (perfect amount of time to have a kid a bail), but that isn’t certain. Unless I want to commit to living abroad for years – like my brother – my years of exploration seem to be quickly running out.
Except, they aren’t. There is always another frontier to explore, although I never realized it. As cheesy as it may sound – if it does sound corny, I can’t really tell – that last final frontier is the future. Although I may never be able to explore as much strictly temporal space as Ibn Battuta, it does not mean my life has to be any less interesting.
I have no idea what will happen in my life. Even tonight, I know only vagaries of a plan – meet with some friends, go to a party, hopefully get Pizza City. That’s the thing, though! Legitimately every action I can ever take is a journey unto itself, with every outcome possible and unknown.
That’s not just exploring, that’s a full on adventure.
Suck it, Ibn Battuta, my life can be just as bad ass as yours… even if I don’t travel more than 75,000 miles before steam power (damn!).