In my everyday life, I have a particular sense of who I am. In some ways, my routine defines me, as do my interactions with the world around me. Cumulatively, over time, the way in which we live our lives, day-to-day, builds up, to form a portion of our sense of who we are that is nuanced and intuitive. Facets of it are based on our impression of how we are seen by others, while other facets derive from how we see the world, and how we interact with and live in it.
One of the interesting things about travel–which some find liberating and others find terrifying–is that it takes us out of the bounds of that daily routine, and that set of self-definitions.
In other words: travel provides the opportunity to redefine who you are.
I was particularly struck by this as I packed for our big post-law and music school trip (which also happens to be our big 10th anniversary trip). I had to decide whether–and to what extent–I wanted to change my way of interacting with the world. Should I pull out that dress which I never seem to get around to wearing in my everyday world? What about those great shoes I bought that time on an impulse?
This sense of possibility and of tabula rasa is no doubt part of what prompts people to go on shopping sprees before setting off on a trip. There’s the feeling that you can edit yourself and create a new version of who you are. Sure, there’ll generally also be familiar elements–but when travelling, the subdued introvert can be more daring, the gregarious socialite can be quiet and isolated. New clothes, a new attitude and a sense of adventure and escape means that you can be someone other than who you are for a bit.
I’m not as struck by this possibility as I used to be. These days, I rather like my life, and I don’t feel a great need to try out a new persona while travelling. I’ve also noticed that change in everyday life, incrementally and over time, can be much more satisfying than the temporary assumption of a “travel persona” and so I’d rather put my efforts into that–to create lasting and meaningful change. And so, while I’m travelling, I’d rather just engage with all the amazing stuff around me. Or, to put it slightly differently, I’d rather let my surroundings impress me (and they generally do!), than expend time and effort in trying to make an impression on my surroundings.
And so, this time, I found that my self-editing went in a rather different direction. This time, I had to look at my daily sense of self and of routine, and decide how many elements of that routine I wanted to bring with me. What habits in my life (many of them somewhat undermined by the demands of law school and bar exam prep) would lend themselves well to travel, and do I value enough to try to bring with me? The one that stood out was blogging. Not only do blogs and travel go hand in hand, but as well, I had missed blogging terribly while I was studying. I’ve come to really enjoy the discipline of finding a topic and formulating thoughts and expressions on the subject in a coherent, but non-formalistic way. So this was at the top of my list–to bring a computer on which I could blog while I was gone. This importing of my everyday routine into the novelty of the travel context did require some effort. I had to track down an inexpensive netbook to use (thanks Dharshini!), install the relevant programs (Scrivener, for any fiction-type jottings, for instance), and get it set up appropriately.
And even so, blogging may not be possible for parts of the trip. It sounds like power outlets might be an issue in Morocco, for instance–but even if this means I’m lugging around dead weight for that part of the journey, because the batteries have long-since expired on my netbook, I don’t care. It’s worth it to me to have access during the rest of the trip. I know that if I simply kept a journal with the plan of transcribing it later, I probably wouldn’t get around to it, particularly once I started articling. So, I had to take advantage of the present moment, and post about the trip, and my impressions, as I could.
That’s the plan. I may not end up with too many official posts. I’m hoping to do a few short or somewhat ad-hoc posts, at the least. I’m also hoping the travel will get the fiction writing juices flowing, in which case, I’ll have something on which to work on that as well.