The Benefits Of Travel
I HAVE ALWAYS BEEN A GYPSY AT HEART. All the clichés are true when it comes to me. “The lure of the open road,” “The grass is always greener…yada, yada, yada,” “On the Road Again.” There must be a hundred or more that call out about the sound of the train whistle in the night and the hum of the tires on the pavement. A gypsy, a nomad, and wanderer, even terms that carry a negative aura – hobo and drifter. All of them pick at the deep seated strings of my being
I heard the siren song as a child. One of my childhood friends was a neighbor who was in his sixties, but who held the best job in the world – he was a conductor for the Pittsburgh & Lake Erie Railroad. I remember sitting on his front porch and asking him about the places he’d been and what it was like being on a real train every day. He let me try on his actual Conductor’s hat.
Today, as a man older than Mr. Hartnett was then, I still relish the idea of getting on the train and feeling the rhythmic clack of the steel wheels on the rails. Sadly, most of the trains are gone now and most of those still rolling are run by the Government with typical governmental care and efficiency.
The traveling that I have been able to do as an adult has been by car or airplane. Of the two I prefer the car, even though it is slower and geographically limited by those things called oceans. Flying can get you to a destination, but you are inside a box, too high to see where you are going.
No matter how you travel, by car, plane, boat (my least favorite way) or even on foot, I think that travel is beneficial and good for the soul. If you live a life controlled by the clock – a clock set by someone else usually – travel can help you reset your pace to a slower and healthier pace. If your daily existence is sedentary, keeping you locked to a desk or workstation, getting on your way somewhere can put a hum back into your life. It can get your heart beating a little faster and clear your vision of what is up ahead.
I can’t do the hiking that I used to do, but I can still read about places and paths, trails that lead to faraway temples. The words may be on a page, but in my mind I can put myself and my boots on the trail alongside the author.
As I write this we are in Ireland – a wonderful destination with almost limitless opportunities for thrilling travel on this island in the northern ocean. It is easy to find yourself putting one foot after the other through 5000 years of history – with more being made every day. Where else can you hike, or climb into a riverboat or a pony cart? There are still modern trains that crisscross the Republic and take you into the six counties that are part of the United Kingdom. Two nations for the price of one.
The benefits of travel, be it close to home or to the other side of the globe, can be felt by both the body and the mind.
Getting up and going somewhere – anywhere – is like taking a refresher course on being human. Plus you have memories and stories and those are the best souvenirs of all.