leaving

I have always wanted to see the world.

 

I’ve always believed the best way to experience a place

is to immerse yourself in it.

The best way to understand people

(and your own self among others)

is to step into their shoes.

 

There is so much beauty, so much culture

so much life on this planet of ours-

I don’t want to miss any of it.

 

My head is crammed full of little moments, priceless

treasures I’ll carry until I can hold onto them no longer.

 

I’m aware that one day these memories will fade.

 

Picking through books and old postcards in a shop in Paris after breakfast

rain spattering on the awning above.

Traversing mountains in Mexico, dusty-footed children chasing bulls ahead

fresh tortillas and earthy soup outside under the sun.

The gleam of the city in Singapore, the heat and humidity

the jungle, hawker centers, incense at the temples.

Endless opportunities for street food in China, inhaling the

smog in the air.

Joining throngs of Italians at espresso counters in Rome, everything colored like

sunset and sunrise

russet and orange all at once…

 

I am in love with the adventures this world has to offer.

 

But in order to do this

in order to live life in the most brilliant of ways

you must learn one of the hardest arts-

the art of leaving

the art of goodbyes.

 

Endings are hard enough when life forces them upon you

the death of a loved one

the slow decay of an old friendship that no longer serves either side

a painful breakup…

 

but leaving those whose lives you’re become part of, leaving those you love

and those who love you?

That’s the worst kind of leaving

the worst kind of goodbye

because you have to choose to take the pain that comes along with it.

 

In order to see the world the way you dream of

you must learn the art of this

particular goodbye

you must steel yourself

accept, far in advance, that there are only two paths.

 

You can choose the lonely road, where you make few close friends

avoiding deep connections to save yourself the pain of the inevitable

severing of ties.

On this road you must grow cold and ice-like

and you will see every beautiful place you ever dreamed of but you will lack

that

warmth.

You will remain put-together and stoic, break a smile, sometimes, even

but you will always be half absent

for to live like this is to remove a part of your heart.

 

Or

 

you can choose the harder road

(and isn’t it true that the most difficult path is usually the most rewarding?)

 

You will land in each new city, in each new place and you will

love it.

You will befriend those in your new community

you will find new people to love

you will develop habits, find peace in your routine

you will immerse yourself in it

and, for a short time, this place will be home.

 

Then one day the time will come where you feel the pull of some new place

as we do, eventually, us nomads.

You’ll tumble the name of a new town on your tongue,

open tab after tab in your browser while you learn

and, thus addicted, one day you will buy that plane ticket

 

and you will go.

 

On that day there will be tears.

your heart will splinter as you shed a piece of it, which will land in the ground

and stick

like a flag

a marker, engraving I have been here

as you disappear

and create a you-sized hole that might be filled soon

or someday

or never.

 

You will bring with you a few physical pieces of your old life

some memories and

dozens of phone numbers (or these days, social media handles)

and you will move forward.

 

I have chosen- or perhaps, this path chose me-

the latter.

I will always choose

this path.

Why?

 

Because the pain of leaving is not greater than the beauty of experiencing the one life we have to live. If I am lucky enough to love and be loved by dozens of communities across my life and over the globe, despite never settling on any one home, who am I to complain? We are given one life and I intend to live mine. I want to see all there is. I want to experience the greatest joys and wonders of the world, and I am not naïve enough to think that comes without small sacrifices.

 

So the next time I board a plane to say goodbye to my now place, en route to my next place…

I will cry. I always do.

My heart will break.

It always does.

But like any muscle pushed to its limit it will tear and ache and eventually

come back stronger.

 

It wouldn’t be hard if I didn’t get so

emotional, if I didn’t care so

damn much but

what’s the point in living if you’re going to keep yourself from caring?

 

This travel, this experience, this process of exploration and self discovery…

this is my dream.

If you are truly going to go after your dreams

you have to accept the challenges that come along for the ride.

 

What are you dreaming of?

Are you brave enough to make it happen?

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