Joel’s Journal – 11/07/2015

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Salzburg, Austria. Photo by Daniel Wittnebel

On Travelling A Three Part Series (Part 3)

Flipping through the pages of my Europe journal:

“ Feeling pretty good at this point we talked a little more and were met by two more guys. A guy that looked like he could have been three times my weight and double my size and another who was about my size but a little more muscular. We immediately become buds and talked despite the fact they spoke limited English. Then as we’re standing there, another guy walks by and bumps the shorter of our two new friends and continues on. Calmly, our new friend turns, takes the two steps towards the guy, grabs him, and immediately starts throwing fists into his face.”

“ It only took our first day there to figure out how dangerous these behemoth beers can be…Daniel and I drank down four of their Liter-o-beers in the time span of about five hours. Now I don’t know about you but 12 beers in two hours is quite a bit for me. So after coming to the realization that we were beyond drunk the pair of us made our way back to the train station, and with a bit of trouble and drunken slurring, managed to get on a train back to Nuremberg. However we did sit in first class when we got on the train and were then kicked out but you know, shit happens.”

“We have been taking a few liberties with our meal fund and been enjoying the restaurants on the canal. Eating spaghetti with a bottle of red wine, fresh bread, and boats slowly cruising through the canal right beside you, it’s surreal, and delicious.”

Throughout this series I’ve talked about how travel can change the way you look at the world, not just as a physical place, but how you look at it from behind your own eyes.

I’ve also talked about the memories, those mental images, videos and snippets of conversations , like the few detailed above, that will stay filed away in my memory banks for decades.

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Fyn, Denmark. Photo by Daniel Wittnebel

It took me a while to really get moving on this post. Sitting in my parents kitchen (down in Kitchener visiting for the weekend) with the afternoon sunlight filtering in through the windows, I tried to pick one memory from the trip to detail for you. One memory, a funny, entertaining memoir that could really depict how influential a long trip can be on one’s life.

There are too many to count though. Drinking bottles of wine in the streets of Venice, 6 AM slices of pizza after a night out in Denmark, resting tired legs and aching shoulders on the beaches of Southern France.

All of these things are great memories, but as I sifted through the pool of these stories in my mind, each of them floating around like Polaroids in a giant puddle, I couldn’t pluck out just one.

I turned my music up louder and thought harder.

I realized that it wasn’t really one memory that I was looking for, it was much more than a memory of a place or event,  it was a feeling.

It’s not some deep, philosophical understanding, some instinctual knowing that travelling is what I’m supposed to be doing, nothing new-agey like that. It’s a hell of a lot simpler, and much more real.

It was there in the days leading up to the trip, loading my pack, driving to the airport, it was right there bubbling along with the nervous excitement.

It was there every morning when I woke up overseas. From my aunt and uncle’s spare room in Odense, to the Italian villas, to the Venice hostels, and even our room in the Nuremberg red light district.

And it was there every night I went to sleep, sometimes exemplified by a few pints of beer.

Happiness. It’s really that simple.

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Nice, France

Happiness that is unfettered by any thoughts of doubt or worries about the future. It’s real happiness, as constant and steady as a heart beat.

Human nature dictates that we worry about the future, it’s what keeps us alive and from putting ourselves into harm’s way. However, that instinctual preservation can get in the way sometimes.

Worry, self-doubt, regret. These are things some of us experience on a daily basis, and sometimes, it takes a real blast of life to get rid of them.

Travelling is that blast.

The trip takes over your life, gets inside your head and takes hold of every bad feeling in there and rips it out like a dead weed, leaving your thoughts clean and pure.

I wish that feeling was an everyday thing, but I think that could possibly ruin it, we’d become desensitized to its power and even forget that it was there.

Besides, half the fun is going out and trying to find it.

Thanks for reading,

J.J.W.