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Running From or Running To? It's a Matter of Perspective

by Carlo Alcos Dec 7, 2010

WHAT ARE YOU RUNNING FROM? That old question. You know the one.

I think most long-term travelers come across this question at least once in their lives, whether it’s asked by someone else or internally of him/herself. Sometimes it’s true. Hell, maybe all the time it’s true. Maybe we really are running away from something. Maybe it’s so deep and so profound we can’t even recognize it.

Flipping the question shifts the attitude to one of healing, not of suppressing.

If you think about it, everyone is running. Even those who’ve never stepped foot outside their hometown. Running from fear. Running from failure. Running from silence. Running from stillness.

Of course, there’s also the flip side of that question. What are you running to? This is the question I’d rather ask. Flipping the question shifts the attitude to one of healing, not of suppressing.

So what am I running to?

Last July I separated from my wife of three years. We spent almost everyday together for six years, many of those traveling in Europe, Russia, Asia, and Australia. I felt all the cliches you could think of: the rug was pulled from under my feet; my world was turned upside down; hung out to dry. I traveled in Eastern Canada, settling in Halifax for a month. Maybe I was running from everything.

Then I made the decision to move to Nelson, British Columbia, a place that, from all accounts I’d heard, was where I needed to be at this time in my life. Over the past two months I’ve come to realize that this is what I was running to. A place of healing.

A small town full of energy and spirit. Full of community. I’ve never felt so at home before. I used to think Vancouver, where I spent the first 30 years of my life, would always be home. But after returning there a couple of times this year, I quickly realized that it isn’t any longer.

I don’t know if it’s my openness or the community’s, but I’ve found it extremely easy to plug myself into it. To make new friends. I’m making connections so obscure and so seemingly random that I really do think that the universe is conspiring. For what, I have no idea.

So what are your plans after Nelson?

I’ve heard this one countless times recently. I never have an answer. I don’t know. There is a certain amount of guilt that comes along with that, like I’m supposed to know. Like I should have plans. I’m learning to shake that guilt. Since moving here I’ve started to feel, energetically, that pieces are arranging themselves to fit. It’s interesting to just watch everything unfold, to make myself vulnerable to whatever happens.

It’s the first time I’ve truly let myself go along with the flow of life. Just being open to it. Following each connection to other connections, or to them coming to a close, then moving on. After Nelson? Who knows. Maybe there is no after Nelson.

On taking over editorship of BNT

Speaking of pieces arranging themselves to fit, my replacement of Christine Garvin as editor of BNT couldn’t have come at a more perfect time. Or be more apt to complete the cycle, seeing as I became a Matadorian in the first place because of this site. As my outer journeys shift to inner journeys, I feel like I’ve come home again.

So that’s where I am right now. I thought it important to share that with you so you know where I’m coming from. One thing I’ve come to understand in the last little while is that when you open yourself up, you invite others to do the same. And I want to invite readers of and contributors to BNT to open themselves up, to feel vulnerable, to know that it’s OK to not have answers. The important thing is that we keep asking questions.

Seeking contributors

I am on the lookout for contributors to BNT. I am looking for narrative travel stories that explore personal issues, that turn inward and expose internal struggle. How your travel experiences have caused you to feel and address something you may not have known was in you. And if a realization occurred.

A recently published article that I thought did this particularly well is Lessons From the One Square Inch of Silence.

I’m also looking for topical articles on things like religion, spirituality, meditation, yoga, culture, happiness, and so on. Example: 10 Meditation Techniques for Travelers.

Before you send anything through, please read David Miller’s excellent post about Travel Writing at Ground Level. Then read our contributor guidelines and submit your draft.

You are our readers. If there is anything you want to see in particular in this space, drop me an email at carlo [at] matadornetwork [dot] com. I would love to hear from you!

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