Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Just Because

Naturally there are many types of travel, some of which we’ve begun to touch upon in this class. One type of travel which I find particularly interesting is the travel done simply for the sake of traveling. Often people find themselves with the urge to just go for a drive, a walk, a run, or even a bus ride just to go. This person may not have a particular destination, but he or she is traveling just the same. We travel just to move. We travel because we simply cannot stand to be stationary. We may find a destination along the way or we may not, but it seems as if the travel itself is still important in its nature as something which can calm and cure.

In chapter 11 of Black Rainbow, the narrator states, “I needed time to be alone, to remember, and in that remembering, perhaps understand…So I drove through the empty streets” (Wendt 186). This episode occurs after the narrator finds his family and decides to escape and rebel against the state, rather than live with his family in the life the Tribunal has planned for them. The narrator’s drive, followed by several days spent at a lake, is a good example in this novel of travel done simply for the sake of traveling. In this chapter the narrator spends time by himself, traveling and collecting his thoughts. In addition to driving, he also takes walks and jogs along the lake. All this time he notes that he is gradually remembering and understanding things about his past. He gathers images of his family, recalls discussions he had with the Tribunal, ponders what he has learned from his three Tangata Maori friends, and “establish[es] connections [he’d] not been aware of before” (Wendt 189). This chapter emphasizes the idea of travel’s peaceful and meditative aspects. The first thing that the narrator does after an extremely stressful moment in his life is go for a drive. He travels just for the sake of traveling. The travel, in turn, helps him get a grasp on who he is and what he is going to do next.

In my own life, this travel for the sake of traveling is often done in the form of running. Typically, especially in the spring and summer months when it is warm, I go for a run in the morning. I consider running, though it does operate under the purpose of trying to stay in shape and stay healthy, as a type of travel done simply for the sake of traveling. I usually don’t have any particular destination. I follow a different path, and run for different distances every time. However, each run gives me considerable time to think. I often spend the time thinking about what I have to do for the rest of the day and organizing my activities so I can go about my day in an orderly fashion. It also gives me time to think about anything that has been bothering me lately. I find running to be an extremely calming activity. It is time spent by myself that is rarely interrupted, aside from the occasional dog being walked along the same path or the friendly wave of a fellow runner. It allows me to notice things around my neighborhood that I have never noticed before: such as the new repairs being made to the public school a couple of blocks away from my house or the plethora of bamboo that is growing along the path behind Newman Towers for some reason. While the running is important to me as a means of attaining physical health, it is also a very important mental escape. The running is a part of who I am and what I choose to do with my life. It helps me to meditate and to medicate, to find peace in times of distress, or even just to get out of my stuffy bedroom when I feel like I should be outdoors. It is my version of travel simply for the sake of travel, and as Wendt explores in Black Rainbow, it can be a crucial aspect of a person’s life.

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