I’m slitting, cross-legged, on the floor of a six-by-ten foot hotel room in Osaka, Japan.
Do I like sitting on the floor, cross-legged?
But I’m in Japan. And in Japan, the traditional style is to sleep on tatami mats, on the floor. And in my hotel, there are no chairs.
While traveling, one must be flexible. (literally).
I am officially six months into my journey around the world.
People often ask, “what is it like to travel like that?”
I guess I would put it like this:
In Antoine Antoine de Saint-Exupéry’s book “The Little Prince,” the main character, a young boy (the little prince), meets a fox.
At first, the fox is just a fox, like a hundred thousand other foxes. And the boy is just a boy, like a hundred thousand other boys.
But then, the boy tames the fox. They get to know each other. In getting to know one another, they become unique in the universe, each one special to one another. They become friends.
Travel is like that.
At first, a map is just a map. The squiggly lines are fun to look at, but they are just shapes. They don’t mean anything, really.
But, then you visit one of the squiggly shapes. And all of a sudden it isn’t just a shape, but a burst of air and water and earth and smells and food and culture. And a burst of people.
And you meet some of these people. And if you are lucky, you look into some of their eyes, into some of their lives, and they show you a glimpse of their reality. You meet them and joke with them and laugh with them and maybe even cry with them and realize that they, too, are human. And not just any human in any squiggle on any part of any map but someone who means something to you. Someone you know, whose face is unique and appears when you think of that foreign place that all of a sudden is no longer foreign.
That person, that place, those experiences are no longer someone else’s, but they live in your heart, and you in theirs, and maybe it hurts but you are both better off because the world is no longer a place of voids, of foreign blobs on a map, but a network of experiences and people and places that you will carry in your heart forever.
Travel; sometimes it’s tough.
Sometimes you miss your bus, or your train, or your flight.
Sometimes people are rude, or lie, or cheat.
Sometimes you miss your family. Sometimes you miss your friends. Sometimes you realize who is really important to you.
Sometimes you get the shits.
Sometimes you are tired, or angry, or fed-up.
Sometimes you feel alone.
And sometimes you have to sit cross-legged on the damned floor.
But, the places I visit, the experiences I share, and the people I meet continue to fill the blank voids of my map with beautiful detail and color, making each one special and unique in all the world.
“If you love a flower that lives on a star, it is sweet to look at the sky at night.”
Here are some photos from my last week in Vietnam:
And, from my totally unplanned but amazingly fun brief visit to Seoul, South Korea: