Add Light to a New Path

Think about your routine in life: the daily activities, your weekly cycle, and all the responsibilities those bring. There is a faster pace in life that people have developed and that technology has allowed. There are general expectations of work, following life according to a clock, creating so-called important concepts like promptness. Our responsibilities create desires that we never attain, a to-do list we never complete. There is rarely a moment when we truly appreciate the lack of movement or progress. These responsibilities are important and necessary but they are not the only things for which we live.  

This has also spilled over into the concept of travel, highlighted by tourism. Many people have adopted travel as something to plan: an adventure has developed its own schedule. People must now explore every single part of the location they visit and do as much as possible within the time-frame they allow themselves. This is a problem for a variety of reasons, one of which being that not even locals know every part of the city in which they live, nor do they always care to learn.

The definition of travel is different based on each person and moreso across cultures around the world. However, the core of the concept must remain as a sense of exploration. Further, this exploration depends on personal interaction with a new area or with the same area differently. Travel is also an exploration of the self. It is a method to develop your person by interacting with a plethora of unknowns. Anthony Bourdain may have explained it best in the companion text No Reservations: Around the World on an Empty Stomach. In it, Bourdain explains: “Travel isn’t always pretty…The journey changes you; it should change you. It leaves marks on your memory, on your consciousness, on your heart, and on your body. You take something with you. Hopefully, you leave something good behind.” In such a small space, Bourdain is able to help recapture the idea that travel is something for which one cannot quite prepare.

Travel has become synonymous with hedonism but it is not so simple. Travel is not something you do for pure satisfaction. While the outcome may be satisfying and contribute positively to your life, the origins of travel are not about comfort or convenience. This does not mean you should only travel in poor conditions. Rather, embrace travel as a reflection of discovery which is a difficult path through the unknown to find something you do not know exists. Travel is not a getaway from the routine or an escape from life. Travel is life.

People have come to limit travel to the time between their responsibilities. Travel has become scheduled time and has its own limit within the routine but it requires more of the traveler. The traveler must recognize the unexpected nature and spontaneity of travel. To travel is not just to visit a place or to rest in a place away from your home. To travel is to take on the challenges of life and to tax the skills you have learned, often in extreme situations. These are moments that require one to expel every effort and to apply lessons to real situations, ones that may lead to unexpected outcomes. Travel is to limit exploration to your senses and abilities as a person to find the rewards from purely human experiences.

I reference Anthony Bourdain as this was a lifestyle he completely embraced. I do this also because of the emphasis of food in travel. You may ask what a candle has to do with travel or food and you have every right to. In response, I say that a simple candle embodies similar ideals. As a chandler, I have begun to revert to my basic senses and explore a world unknown to me through perspectives I have yet to uncover. The relation to food comes in the way you can understand these other perspectives and lives. In exploring the food, tastes, and smells around the world you can learn about the native ideas and how they may be formed. You begin to find patterns based on local products, the weather that allows specific foods, and the preferences of the people in a community. Food as a part of travel is an expression of your personal life. The deeper connection to candles, then, is in the memories we choose to feature, the moments and experiences we try to capture.

A candle cannot replace one’s travels, nor can it feign to serve as a reminder for the imprint on the sojourner but it might help inspire. A scent can rekindle those imprinted memories or reveal a certain pattern someone has experienced. Really, something as simple as a scent, or a taste, can connect two unknown people in a way that language or communication may not. Do not travel to say you have. Travel so that you may imprint on others and be similarly imprinted upon. Embrace the challenge of travel for the secrets it uncovers. Travel to explore the lives of others. Learn to track these experiences through the basic human notations of bodily senses. See the world with new eyes. Find and explore new scents. Remember the feeling of unique textures and firmly grasp these experiences so that you may use them to learn about life in ways you could not have imagined if you only explored that which you already know.