“You need to think about your future, not just about travelling”. This is a fight I have nearly every time I talk to my mother. She, like any responsible parent, is concerned for me. Although she is past trying to prevent me from travelling altogether, I can tell she is constantly worried that I am throwing my life away. Rather than volunteering and sleeping on the floor of a hut in Malawi, I should be finding internships, working and saving. Preparing for the future.
Almost all of the people I ask nowadays seem to be business or economics majors. When I ask them why, they tell me that they want to make money.
While through the desert canyons of southern Jordan this summer, I was struck once again by how beautiful the differences between cultures are, and how very much we have to learn from one another. I had always assumed (with my American biases and stereotypes) that living in any Arabic country means less freedom. The United States is obsessed with the idea of freedom. Of instant gratification. We want whatever we want, whenever we want it. We want opportunities and the ability to do things. Yet while sipping Arabic tea and riding camels through the canyons, I learned that I know nothing about real freedom. The incredible sense of freedom that the Bedouins have is different, but just as beautiful, and twice as strong. They are free from the hazy someday that is the future. Unlike the majority of people I speak to in western countries, the Bedouins are not slaves to the future. Rather than constantly working in order to ensure a secure and comfortable lifestyle, they live in the moment. They do what they want to do. When they save money, it is enough to finance their next trip abroad, not to put in a bank account.
I should be working. Saving. Planning for my future. I do not know how to explain to people that this is my future. I am doing exactly what I want to be doing. Once upon a time, I thought that I was directionless and lost because I had no idea what career path I wanted. I just wanted to travel. After meeting so many people that have carved out lives for themselves doing just that, and learning that constantly worrying about having enough money for the future is a choice rather than a necessity, I have left that metaphorical cage somewhere in the desert. I hope it rusts away entirely. The truth is, as much as my mother hates hearing it, finding a secure job is not even on my priority list…in fact, the idea of one scares me more than anything else. Travelling has not only contributed to my identity, it is how I became strong enough to recognize and embrace who I am. It is not just all I want, it is all I can imagine wanting. I have felt what it is like to wake up and know that I am living my dreams, dreams I fought for and earned all on my own, and I cannot imagine giving that up. Getting a stable job and settling down somewhere would, in a way, make travelling another blip in my past. A phase. Like middle school, or wearing braces. I know many people that want that life, but I am not one of them. Someday I am sure I will wear out the souls of all of my shoes and be ready to rest my feet, but for now that belongs to the hazy someday of the future…why should I compromise my dreams today for what I am told should be my dream for the future? Why would anyone not choose to live the life they want to live while they can?