Monday, September 27, 2010

Tanya Shaffer on Why She Travels

In the book that I am reading, Tanya Shaffer's Somebody's Heart is Burning: A woman wanderer in Africa, the author encounters an old man in a ferry boat during her arduous ride up the Niger. The man wants to know why she is in that over-crowded pinasse going to Timbuktu.

I am always interested in the various responses to this question of why we travel, and I particularly liked Tanya's musings about her inability to respond adequately to the old man's question. Perhaps because it mirrors our own sentiments.

She writes:
How could I tell yet another person here that with everything that had been given to me, I was still restless and unsatisfied? That I felt driven to wander the earth in search of some elusive key that would unlock the chamber of my own happiness? How could I explain that I chose physical hardship: dysentery, heat rash, dizzying rides in crowded vehicles down bumpy, potholed roads – that I chose all of this, because it was the only thing that made me feel truly alive?
I will post more about this book soon.