Originally posted on Jet Set Zero in 2010 when I was a cast member of the web series in Thailand.
Love. The more I learn about it the more worthless the word becomes; the more I feel it, the less its utterance is called for. Love is circular, love is a peak, love is a valley, love is around me, and love is inside me, before me, after me, and between me. I truly believe that all existence is love or a practice in it. Love is death, love is life, and love is strife. But the more I learn of it, the more I realize that love is none of these things. Love just is.
When you travel you hear many peoples’ stories. You find that most people’s compasses are directed by this four-letter word, whether they use the word or not. As my stay in Thailand begins to come to a close I have been often lost in thought. Today, however, I found myself absent from my mind. I have experienced the joy I was seeking tenfold here in Thailand, but today was the first time I felt absolute clarity of mind. No four-letter word could describe it, but let’s just say it was lovely.
Each of us has given up something for this life. Life in general is full of sacrifice, but it can be argued that a life of travel is rife with sacrifice. Every time we go somewhere we are bound to leave new friends, new comforts, new customs behind. I’ve come to realize that this is not just a vagabond lifestyle, this is life and death. When you are open to it, travel can therefore become a crash course is the cycle of life and death. In short, travel can be a lesson is how to let go. (It’s called freedom, ladies and gentlemen.) But we don’t think of sacrifice as freedom. We think of it as a strife, we resist it; but if you ask me, a shift is occurring.
To confront one’s demons, many travel. Many call this “escapism”, but they don’t yet know the freedom and the courageous spirit that is exercised when you just go. You breath in, you breathe out, you live, you die, you land, you fly – all these are not mutually exclusive; they exist together, but we resist the “bad”. This life welcomes the yin and the yang. I’ve come to learn that therein, there is no good or bad, perfect or imperfect, right or wrong. There is only love. Sometimes we just forget that in order for a thing to be complete, there must be two sides and when you are in the valley, it can be hard to see the peak. After all the sacrifice and confrontation, really, there is only love.
They call it lust for life, but it is with love that I take flight, take refuge, and take one step after the other. This is no ordinary love. This is the love that welcomes change, that accepts that life is constantly in a state of flux; the kind of love that doesn’t warrant home-sickness. It is not the love you rely on when you’re lonely or the kind of love you make – it is part of you. It is the people that come together to see you off, the joy they bring you in absentia, and the way they will always welcome you back with warmth and loving kindness. This love I carry with me all over the world, boundlessly grateful to everyone that helps me see its yin and its yang, as each guides this evolution of self.
(God, I know this sounds a lot like all that New Age-y bullshit, but I vowed to own up to everything this experience yielded and, goddamn it, this is it.)
In short, I’ve come to realize just how special this love is. Not everyone carries with them the faith and strength that this sacrifice provides. I began this lesson long ago as a boy transplanted from one country to another and back again. I’m not going to pretend it’s all been sunshine and roses, because it’s hasn’t been. After all of that, however, what comes naturally to me is to live a life that is open; then I can take this omnipresent love I receive – in all its forms – and return it in a way that makes every day a practice in peace. And I know that even if I never spoke that four-letter word again, love would always be there to guide me.