We shall not cease from exploration
And the end of all our exploring
Will be to arrive where we started
And know the place for the first time
— T.S. Eliot, “Little Gidding”
I scrawled these words onto the final page of the moleskin I brought traveling, as a reminder to make my travels worth something more than the time and money that I spent abroad. As a reminder to acknowledge the changes within myself and the adjusted lens through which I now see the world. And with these things in mind, the transition back into America has been a breeze. I mean, spending two weeks basically on vacation in Northern California certainly wasn’t a challenge, but even coming home to Baton Rouge. While I usually curse the town where I was raised for all it’s faults, I found myself looking at the advantages to living here and noting all the improvements that have been made to the city since I’ve been away. But I really felt that I had come back to the place where it all began when we touched down in New York. It’s where the idea for this trip was born, and being back felt like the end — but in a good way. In a, man, we really did it, kind of way.
I think travel affects everyone differently. And I’m happy to say that the things I’ve noticed about myself that weren’t here before are for the majority, positive improvements. I feel more optimistic, more patient, and more accepting of people just as they are. The trick to making long term travel worthwhile is holding on to these things. Not losing the positive effects of being out in the world in strange places surrounded by strange people and eating strange food, but to embrace those things by letting yourself change on the inside and not let go.
But it’s true what Eliot says: We shall not cease from exploration. Everyday can be one of exploration, of satisfying new curiosities. And the way to keep life interesting is to stay curious, even about things just around the corner.