“We travel to bring what little we can, in our ignorance and knowledge, to those parts of the globe whose riches are differently dispersed.”
This thought has been with me whenever I travel ever since I read it about two years ago. It’s from an essay by a personal hero of mine, Pico Iver, and by the Gods, how I wish I had read it earlier in life. “What little we can”, he writes, it’s exactly what I’ve been forgetting to pay attention to before. Capturing moments at their grand peak, when we remember that it’s time to pay attention to them, we tend to capture them pretty much like a still photograph, a constructed memory of things which very magically came together to form their final piece. A snapshot of the grand scheme.
But it’s more than that.
If a moment in time could be perceived by a very Gestalt approach, how differently would it be perceived? What parts are there, where did they come from? What’s their story?
It could have been the rum talking that night, but I swear I could feel the stacked atoms of foreign happenings coming together, bonded by a certain kind of cultural chemistry. Inside that little Bedouin tent in the Wadi Rum desert, there was more life roaring than the hundreds of square kilometres that surrounded it.
The little that we brought, I kept thinking! I could see it forming in front of me, eyes wide open. The scene was being layered right there: I was dancing barefoot with a cheeky Bedouin, trying not to mess up his Arabian Nights rhythms with my clumsy, slow Western dance moves. The Bolivian girl then joined us, flowing her body in very clear (read, sexy) latin shapes, while the singing was being taken care of by our Hungarian friend, soaring a beautiful traditional Gypsy song, deep down from her lungs. The Jordanian host was doing his best to follow her rhythm on his wooden drums.
All, of course, while the rum kept being poured by the friendly Spanish.
What was happening? What was all this? For a moment there, a random moment somewhere in the Middle East could be deconstructed down to a core stripped of labels and anonymity, a deconstruction of such individual richness and roots that could only be understood by minds where prejudice did not reign, but only acceptance.
Maybe I had too much rum, after all.
It turns out what we carry isn’t so little. Within us, there’s a heavy piece of our story, so entangled into our beings that we happily carry them as light as a feather. Dare I say that it’s our duty to head out there into the wild and throw them into the melting pot?