I have not made enough trips, I have barely enough accumulated miles to buy a plane ticket thus far. I have traveled to 5 different countries, 2 different continents, many cities, and around 7 tropical islands. Yet, my wanderlust is far from satisfied. In fact, it is only more hungry after each trip.
As we drove down to Key West from Ft. Meyers, spending four hours driving through barely developed highways in the everglades to bridge after bridge, being surrounded by the Atlantic Ocean on one side and the Gulf of Mexico on the other, I was readily anticipating the beauty that lie ahead on Key West.
I am convinced that expectations can be the worst way to set yourself up for disappointment; yet I always have expectations before I arrive at unfamiliar territory. I imagine crystal blue and turquoise water with the perfect warmth, and no harm of nature in sight. I imagine the native people to be interesting and nice, and to have a fully cultural experience. I expect to learn, talk, run wild and free exploring this new place.
As we pulled into our hotel I didn’t know what to expect. We unpacked, I walked out the backdoor and immediately felt the soft sand in between my toes, the warmth on my skin, the aesthetically pleasing surroundings in my eyes and in my soul. I walked out to the bridge where I had the gulf almost at my fingertips, boats riding out into the sunset, birds flying and singing the anthem of my first evening in this magical place. I was mesmerized. No matter what I expect, whenever I arrive at my destination it always seems mesmerizing. That’s the thing about traveling, for me. I expect a lot, I want a lot, but whenever I get there I realize I’m here, and that in itself is all I could want. I guess that goes along with the ethics of Buddhism; happiness is wanting what you have. It is being content without desires. We could go even further to say ‘eliminate all but our simplest wants,’ as the Epicureans suggested, but often what we want drives us to what we achieve, and far too often what we feel.
Key West is it’s own island. The people there are proud of it, and although very touristy it is an island nonetheless. It has the feel of wanting to stay there forever, it sucks you in, walking around barefoot in the perfect weather, sun on your shoulders for hours, as you feel little but the relaxation of being there. Everything revolves around the water and it feels natural, as natural as our lives revolving around these bodies of liquid, it all makes sense.
Walking up and down the streets, everything is interesting. The people are from all over the country and the world, and although it takes hours to get to anywhere but another Florida Key, there is something quite comforting about being there, being secluded, but being so warm and without a worry.
I understand why it’s loved by so many people and so many creatures, and like many of the beautiful places I have had the pleasure of exploring I felt I could see myself there for an extended period of time. I felt my desires were obsolete, and even that they were gone, at least everything but the simplest of those. I suppose that’s what traveling does to me, and that is why I love it; because although I understand having many desires may lead to achievement, I find with only our simplest desires we can be happy without being greedy or wanting even more. If asked the life-long question of what is the end goal and what is most important in life; I think most every living homo sapien would respond that pure happiness with no attachment is not only the most important desire but also the end goal –
Until next time;
“Never stop wondering, never stop wandering”