For awhile now, I’ve been wanting to get inked.
Despite a lack of sentiment for objects, I do find myself drawn to tattoos. Part of it is the sin. Part of it is the permanence. Of course, it is that permanence that also terrifies me. Not to mention the cost, if I’m choosing between a few hundred dollars to put towards travel or a few hundred dollars to memoralize an adventure on my skin, I’ll pick new travels.
So when I dream of a time when I am not so terrified of commitment and have plenty of money to spend on cosmetics. (Seriously a tattoo falls after Lasik and laser hair removal, people. I am vain. So vain.) I search through images of compasses and maps, and imagine what it would be like to have colors and lines on my arms, shoulders and side.
These wonderings often bring me to thoughts of travel and just why it means so much to me. It’s such a part of who I am, I believe it is appropriate to stab myself a million times with needles at some unforeseen future time. It is enough of a regular cost in my life, plane tickets are worked into the monthly budget. So why? What about being foreign is so thrilling to me?
I fail to find the words to describe the meaning of leaving home. I can’t explain why wandering means so much to me; and in those moments where I crave entirely new full-sensory experiences that come with each destination, I read the words of authors who have described travel before me and better than I ever will.
Traveling is a brutality. It forces you to trust strangers and to lose sight of all that familiar comfort of home and friends. You are constantly off balance. Nothing is yours except the essential things – air, sleep, dreams, the sea, the sky – all things tending towards the eternal or what we imagine of it. – Cesare Pavese
All that is gold does not glitter, not all those who wander are lost; the old that is strong does not wither, deep roots are not reached by the frost. – J.R.R. Tolkien
The phrase, “Not all those who wander are lost,” has stuck in my mind for years. It’s become such a part of how I describe why I travel that I say it without realizing I’m quoting the famous fantasy author. Travel has changed me, continually challenges me and pushes me to be the kind of person I want to be.
I make a hundred mistakes every day, but somehow making those mistakes in a place where I am foreign makes me less of a mess and more understanding, more human. As I roam, I find myself becoming a more peaceful person. My moment of zen is that chaotic moment in airports, train stations and bus lines when there is no sure path and suddenly I am left trusting strangers to help me get where I am going.
Wherever it is.
And maybe some day it will be a stop in a tattoo shop.