As I pack up yet again for my impending travels, through organizing my things I came across a stash of letters and cards from friends and family. It was a treat to read them and I noticed how many folks made mention of things like my courageousness and adventurousness and my traveling vagabond ways. “Free spirit!” they called me.
Owning the “free spirit” label or even calling myself a traveler has been a long time in the making. In fact, it’s still in progress. Much like I can be in denial of the traits I don’t want to possess, I find that I am often in denial of the desirable traits I do possess.
I noticed that this is due in part to meeting so many other travelers on the road who are so well traveled and, shall we say, more graceful (as in, they’ve never run through dark forests trying to look like a crazy person so they didn’t get attacked). My friend J, for example, traveled around the world for two years before moving from Portugal to Italy where he got fluent in Italian in a matter of months and went on the job market in the financial sector. He is always optimistic and brimming with joy. Even more so when things go awry. Compared to J, I think to myself, I’m not a free spirited traveler at all!
But when I parse out what it is that I do (travel) from how I feel about what I do (mixed feelings from joy to utter terror), I notice that J and I are the same. Travelers travel. Some travelers (J) thrive on all aspects of their travels and others (me) travel despite bouts of fear, loneliness, and weariness. It is both in my comparison to others and in coming around to a new way of being or doing (it just takes me a while to adjust to changes with my identity), that I discount the things I do and who I am.
The truth is, you don’t have to do what you do perfectly, professional or even all that well. But if you travel, write, draw, study, etc. often and it’s inextricably a part of your life, then you are a traveler, writer, artist, student, etc.
I am what I do. And you are, too. Good, bad, or otherwise.