For some reason in Irish society travelling for long periods of time is often seen as a selfish act. It’s met with an attitude that the traveller is unable to commit to an occupation, a place, a lifestyle. That that person is somewhat lost in life and has no stability, no sense of the real world. I doubt this is a view held by Irish society alone but in my experience many of my friends from other parts of the world are told to keep travelling as long as they can. Their families and communities often tend to be more supportive of their nomadic way of life.
Ireland boasts the most amount of passport holders in the world yet when you travel abroad you often find that the Irish that have escaped the confines of their native homeland tend to then settle in the first place they land. They get full time jobs and build a home from home, often surrounded by other Irish natives. Immigrating rather than travelling, some stay for years then venture home, others stay forever.
However if you are like me, someone jumping between countries, cities and jobs, you are likely viewed as someone running away from commitment. You are often meet with the thought provoking question of what are your plans? What are you doing with your life?
Well, I’m travelling. This is my life. I’ll work dead end jobs for next to nothing in order to take in views from mountain tops and lie in the sun on beaches in far off places. And what’s wrong with that?
We humans have a tendency to believe that a life well lived is one that conforms to age old rituals of settling down, finding careers and starting families. That travelling is healthy for a while but not for forever. I know as much as my parents love me they don’t approve of my lifestyle. They think my heads in the clouds. Communication is hard, keeping touch is hard because as much as I miss them I can’t bring myself to go home or settle somewhere permanently. And I can see in their eyes and hear in their voices that I’m once again letting them down.
I am plagued with Irish guilt. The guilt that my family miss me. The guilt that the people I love are another year older, another year without me there to watch them growing old. To hear of their aches and pains and hatred for their nine to five while I live in a fantasy land in my head on the other side of the world. It’s always a case of, ‘when are you coming home?’, ‘why are you still out there anyway?’ The guilt rises like bile in your stomach and I’m forced to try and rewire my brain to consider the prospect of going home when my heart searches for travel. Where my soul searches for unfamiliar streets and secluded lands where life is light and fun and free. And once you’ve had a taste of that it’s hard to let it go.
Truth is I’m not running but I’m seeking, I’m looking for my place in the world but staying in one spot has never made any sense to me. And I keep on moving because I haven’t found somewhere where I’ve felt like I’ve needed to stay. Where I’ve found contentment or happiness more than my nomadic life grants me. I don’t yearn for my own house or a career more than I yearn for that feeling of when a plane touches ground, or for more than new sights, new smells, new sounds and new places. New prospects, new jobs, new skills and new friends. So I push that guilt from the forefront of my mind and I quell it in my heart for a time and I set off again trying to find my place in this world. But maybe I never will. Maybe it’s the journey that’s right for me.
Sorry Mum, I love you all but I won’t be home just yet.