Sometimes it's a mind clarifier to point out the inaccuracies in your own life - that blend of irony and confusion that makes up your unique mindset. Bottom line: I'm all confused. You probably are too. Let's talk amongst ourselves...
Carpe Dimes and Nickels
Since I returned from a round-the-world trip on August 17th, I've done very little besides sit in front of screens - computer, TV, what-have-you. I seldom leave home or drive my car unless it's purely necessary. Rarely do I step outside if not to summon my cat in at twilight, and the most exercise I get comes from group fitness classes at the gym down the street. I spent one weekend in northern Indiana with my best friends eating guacamole and floating on one long raft around Lake Tippicanoe, but that certainly can't be all the excitement I can handle over a two month period.
Why do I not carpe the diem when I'm not traveling?
This isn't to say Indianapolis is a humdrum city. Since I've been home, I've been inspired to visit Indy's Fringe Festival and multiple cultural celebrations (including Irish and Greek), camp outside in the brisk fall evenings, take bike rides along the Monon Trail, enjoy the friends I have in town and a myriad of other activities; however, I only managed to accomplish two of these list items in all this time.
National parks pepper the state of Indiana like acne on a teen's face, so why do I not pack up my Coleman tent and get out there?
This is my favorite season and type of weather, reminding me of football season and my affinity for the smell of dead leaves. Why do I never leave the house?
After spending 2.5 months concentrating solely on experiencing the world, maybe I was burned out and needed some time to document those moments still unprocessed, but I completed my purge of World Traveler Internship memories a month ago and had relaxed my fair share by that point as well. The fact of the matter is when I'm back in Indiana, regardless of season or how many friends I have in town, I live like a hermit but continue to pine for the adventure of another country. And it's not always a desire to romp around the Andes or dog-sled in Siberia; I often wish for the simplicity of a small town in Mexico or reading a book in an Italian piazza - fundamental activities I could easily do at home with the same level of perceived exoticism.
In Alain de Botton's book, The Art of Travel, a man travels around his own bedroom as if it were any other place in the world, where he experience the known as if it were unknown, not just pretending but actually opening the eyes to a new perspective. It's a conscious choice to see your own native surroundings as banal and yawn-inducing, and for those of us who live for the next departure date, making this decision to spent your home days pining will give your emotions a roller coaster ride throughout life. My happiness chart would look like a sine curve - with the peaks occurring on the road and the low points while sitting at home.
Indianapolis isn't exactly a hub for tourism. Though we have two (or three) of the five highest grossing national sporting events each year, people don't flock to this area for nature and culture above other locales. But if I were to approach this city (or even state) as a traveler would, I'd be filling my days with gourmet cafes, nature hikes, museum visits, excursions to small towns for chili cook-0ffs and elaborate Independence day celebrations. I'd be jet-skiing across Geist on weekends and having barbeques with friends regularly. Free gallery nights and dairy farm tours, baseball games and tailgating...I think I've made my point. I've been lazy.
I turn my adventurelust on and off as well as my wallet's accessibility at home. In my mind, I can't silence the thought that one night's dinner and movie in Indianapolis could fund a week or more living in India. A cocktail here cost four times as much as one beer in Cambodia. If I were traveling and had no desire to experience anything because of proximity or cost, I'd be pretty darn bored, and most would consider this approach to be a waste of time on the road. So why do I not consider my state a destination?
Thus far, I've failed to mention the activity that does retain my attention day and night while in Indy: computer work. Since August 17th, I've switched to and designed a self-hosted website with (almost) daily posts of various media, read books on travel writing, written articles for and connected with many publications and companies and developed a plan for future humanitarian/documentary work overseas. It's when I'm gone that I wish for the connectivity of free wifi and a good computer at home, so I suppose I try to make the most of it when stationary. But this isn't living.
Am I doing at home what is essential for me to live the life abroad? If I'm desiring to document travel, do I not need to be completely wired and figure out other passive means of generating income online? This is how I justify all the time spent indoors, away from those activities which truly sustain my spirit. In reality, if I consider myself a good traveler, I need to ensure the love of discovery is naturally infused into each day, regardless of location.
In an attempt for equilibrium, I will challenge myself to live a little at home, because I do love the excitement that can occur under these skies. Cornfields don't have to grace your eye with familiarity; they can be just as thrilling as the south Indian farmland. And it doesn't have to cost a trip to Mexico to enjoy the delights of nearby.