I love reading travel books. Reading about the journeys others have set out on or those adventures people fall into by mistake inspires me even more in my quest to see the world. Seeing their trials and successes and imagining myself in those situations allows me to get a taste of what the trip could be like. Usually, as I finish one of these books, I start thinking about taking my own adventure just like the one the author has written about. I declare that I’m going to set off for a year of travel, or I’m going to ride my motorcycle around the world (after learning how to drive one…), or that I’m off to live with the Maasai, and so on and so on.
I just finished reading Tracks by Robyn Davidson about her journey across 1,700 miles of Australian desert by camel. For the first time, I closed a travel book wondering if this is an adventure I could actually do. Sure, I’d love to go camel trekking in Morocco or out to the pyramids in Egypt, but could I actually spend over half a year trekking across the desert with just four camels and a dog to keep me company, only coming across other humans every so often? I’m not sure I could. It’s also not something I ever would have thought to do.
Robyn writes, “The question I’m most commonly asked is ‘Why?’ A more pertinent question might be, why is it that more people don’t attempt to escape the limitation imposed upon them? If Tracks has a message at all, it is that one can be awake to the demand for obedience that seems natural simply because it is familiar. Wherever there is pressure to conform (one person’s conformity is often in the interests of another person’s power), there is a requirement to resist. Of course I did not mean that people should drop what they were doing and head for the wilder places, certainly not that they should copy what I did. I meant that one can choose adventure in the most ordinary of circumstances. Adventure of the mind, or to use an old-fashioned word, the spirit.”
While I’m not sure I’ll be setting out to trek the wild desert anytime soon, I will always choose adventure and trying something new, and encourage you all to do the same.