"Live like a traveler at home." Henry David Thoreau's these words are also my life philosophy.
On this April day (2016), I reflect on what it means to be a "traveler at home".
Of course, Thoreau coined the term -- in a letter to Harrison Blake in 1859, he gave the following advice: "To let the mountains slide,—live at home like a traveler. It should not be in vain that these things are shown us from day to day. Is not each withered leaf that I see in my walks something which I have traveled to find?—traveled, who can tell how far? What a fool he must be who thinks that his El Dorado is anywhere but where he lives!"
But what does it mean? What does it mean to me?
Certainly, I have been to a few places far from home: by my count, I have been to 42 of the 50 states in the U.S.; I have been to countries in Asia, North America, Europe and Africa. But, I am just a regular guy -- I spend most of my time at home or at work. Some of the trips I have taken were really once-in-a-lifetime trips: such as when I went to India, or Morocco, or Gibraltar -- I really don't know if I will ever be back again to these places. But, you know what, when I take a stroll in the farm park near my home, or when I walk around the Tidal Basin in Washington D.C., or when I go to Great Falls Park, or Manassas National Battlefield Park, or Occoquan National Wildlife Refuge, to name a few, all within a half hour's drive from home -- these are all once-in-a-lifetime trips to me.
Yes, that is what it means to be a traveler at home, I think: every trip is a once-in-a-lifetime trip, near or far. Heraclitus said, "You could not step twice into the same river." We are but transient passengers in an ever-changing world, every moment is unique. I may go back to the same park tomorrow, but tomorrow it will be different than today. Things change; I change. Therefore, every moment is precious and to be savored. When we go to exotic, far-flung places, we are wide-eyed and try to absorb all the sights, sounds and smells. Why would we not do the same just because the place is closer to home? Others travel far to go to these places. We should feel fortunate that we do not have too. That is the only difference, really.
I think this perspective also travels with me when go to those far-flung places: I savor every moment. I am a traveler at home, I am also a traveler in the world; I am a traveler in this transient life. I am a traveler not in space but also in time.
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