You say I travel to find myself. Here’s what I’ve found.
You ready your children for school. They wear crisp uniforms, pressed white shirts and blue skirts, biking together like a school of fish, a wave of goodness that parts for the ambling bus. They breathe the black exhaust. They pedal on.
You shop for dinner. What looks good? You squeeze a peach and press it to your nose and it smells like summer and long, warm evenings bathed in golden light. Like making love in the mornings when everything is tender and sweet. You hear laughter and think of cold cream and heaping spoonfuls of sugar that gather in the bottom of the bowl.
You watch the angry people on television and you believe every word. You voted for some of them. They stoke your rage. You share it on social media. Love is harder. You argue with me. Someone told you Sweden was forever ruined by people who look and think differently than you. But I walked her streets and they were beautiful, the air scented with cardamom rolls and fallen leaves.
You go to work, to auction off bits of your life in exchange for online purchases. This is somehow normal. Traffic is thick and you are tired. A friend waves and you wave back. The woman who owns the shop on the corner has your morning coffee ready, just how you like it. You sold five minutes with your son for this. Maybe you smoke a cigarette, maybe you look out at the people, ants marching, carrying their slaughtered souls in for the grand sell off. You steal a moment either way, tuck it into your pocket like a crushed butt so there’s something from this day that you carry forward.
You take a selfie.
You fire a bullet. It burns through generations: yours, your daughter’s, your grandchild’s. It strikes your neighbor and your wife. No one forgets the bullet, everyone touches the exit wound. Some worship the exit wound. Someone writes a best seller. Everyone forgets that everyone emptied the gun chamber, so we all blame one another. Go ahead, swipe our hands for residue. It’s there and it tastes like justice.
The prophet is weeping and you brush past her. She is blocking your way to the auction. Why does she never stop? No one pays attention, until her work is on the block at Sotheby’s where it seems most brilliant.
Everything must go.
You sit by the stranger on the bus whose mother is dying. She does not recognize her own children anymore. And you think of your alcoholic sister who is just trying to escape the pain of it all, because she can’t forget. You meet the stranger’s eyes and see something familiar there.
You burn your country. It was an accident, a stream of seemingly small choices over time. You thought the clean water was endless, that you could keep the tap running while brushing your teeth, flushing your toilet, filling glass after glass after glass after glass and dumping them on the sizzling grass that was never meant to grow here. Next time you’ll plant straws instead, green and pink and blue, they were once beautiful and they never die.
You kill your animals. You only wanted to eat. You could never watch the videos with a plate in front of you, the suffering, the pool of blood, how it looks like the daily butchery of the grand auction of souls. Everyone averts their eyes from everything that matters.
But let’s not go there. No one wants to know. Willful ignorance is bliss. You eat until heart disease and throw the skinny street dog your leftover chicken. Even he thinks it is delicious.
You believe. Because you’re drowning in fear and yet so thirsty. Because life is hard and it feels good to believe in something. Even if it’s invisible. Even if getting baptized in the river Jordan requires a gown rental at no small cost. The poor cannot afford faith: get a job. Speak our language. You keep the talisman in your night stand. Someone on the other side of the world does too. They look different, but stand for the same thing. Hope.
You tuck the bedsheets around you, and free one foot. The bed is soft and safe, the cotton pleasantly cool. And on the other side of the world, the cycle begins again.
Your tears fall into the water I drink.
You eat the apple I picked.
I walk through the door you opened.
Your child is my child. Your country is my country. Your pocket is full of my smoked butts. At some point we all fire the bullet and we all bleed and bleed and bleed. The dog’s hungry eyes are same as yours, and he doesn’t care where the food came from. Your country burns. My country burns. We all burn.
And the lines are blurred every day, even our veins will one day pump the same blood, it seems. And how is it possible so few see this?
You say I travel to find myself. After so many miles, so many passport stamps, so many maps, I have found you.
This blog was never about travel, not really. I am less a traveler than an observer; an investigator; and in every country I find proof of oneness: lesson after lesson, snapshot after snapshot. I am you. You are me. And we are me and we are thee. We are all connected in infinitely more ways than we ever thought possible. We are all one.
Would you change your ways if you found yourself too?
Charish Badzinski is an explorer and award-winning features, food and travel writer. When she isn’t working to build her blog, she applies her worldview to her business, Rollerbag Goddess Global Communications, providing powerful storytelling to her clients.
Posts on the Rollerbag Goddess travel blog are never sponsored and have no affiliate links, so you know you will get an honest review, every time.
Find Charish on Twitter: @rollrbaggoddess, on Facebook at @rollrbaggoddess, and on Instagram at @rollerbaggoddess. You can also read more about Charish Badzinski’s professional experience in marketing, public relations and writing.
Rollerbag Goddess travel blog by Charish Badzinski is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.