The Travelling Man

May 24, 2017

He dreamt of places around the world.

Dreams of China. Dreams of Paris. Dreams of Brazil. Dreams of Russia. He imagined meeting with his subconscious desires in Italy and his lurking despairs in London. In each dream he was new. A new identity for himself lived in every dream he had, and the visions grew with each closing of his eyes. Soon, they became so complete that his mind acted as a paint brush—sweeping over the imagined cityscapes and vistas in his head with strokes in every hue. Almost immediately around the time these colors painted the insides of his eyelids, he said goodbye to his aging parents and disappeared with his unused college fund. The places he went to because of his dreams changed him, and seemed to him to ask who he wanted to be. He was selfish in L.A, generous in Australia, rigid in Dubai. The different lives he lived became a kaleidoscope of colorful emotions and experiences, a pattern of change, a wonderland of what if’s and what now’s. Nearly every night he lay at the eyepiece of this telescope, and he dreamt. Inspired yet terrified by his subconscious, he raced around the world.

     And so it begins, the travelling man’s chase behind his dreams.


    The man began in Dubai. At eighteen, he was young and eager to find meaning, something that would make him complete. Here, he was driven and he moved forward with fast pace. The massive glass city sprawled upward in technological prowess all around him. From grand all-seeing windows he watched as money replaced the leaves on the trees, replaced the yellow road markings, replaced the window frames, and coated the subway steps so that the city held a money-colored green hue. He was rigidly aware and alert to change. Responsive only to strategy and progression, he watched the glass jungle.


    He saw before him the cool blue and the grey-white of the Moscow buildings, a vision of certainty and direction. To think like Russia he found, was to think in historical depth, with a continent’s past of strength embedded in the country’s walls. To think like Russia was to think with care, to think with precision in a snowy, ancient color.


    London held for the traveller an intellectual atmosphere, with a solemn fog following his movements. The maroons and browns of the city worked with his melancholy mood, the harbor setting a stillness for his eyes. It was here where he came to contemplate, to look into his knowledge and bring from it a sad comfort; it was quite a nostalgic affair.

Los Angeles

The city in California brought to him a materialistic, selfish quality that never left his exterior. He walked down its busy neighborhoods, taking in art critically in a manner that said he had asserted his judgement. At night, the lights of the city revealed in his eyes a harsh perception. He saw what he wanted to see, he was entertained to his standards and left alone with the views only after he had drained the day. He wrung out the towel of his days and their grand colors—metallics, golds, striking reds and pearl whites leaked like molasses from his towel and into the drain of his memory. He forgot these days as he had many others and remembered what he wanted to; the select compartments of his judgement were reserved for later use.                    


    Ah, Italy. Here he saw bridges of lust and desire, bridges of cultural passion and visions of an Italian intimacy through food, drink, and mysterious intrigue. He saw Italy in the boats, with the song of an escape drifting through the water. He was here to become rich in culture, to find a vivacity in shameless desire. He walked in the streets and saw the dark silhouettes of the day’s end. These silhouettes held a dark green glow, a color that spoke of a permanently foreign trace. Even the country’s citizens were tourists to the changing days here, days which spoke of a lasting yearning. No matter how many times the travelling man experienced Italy, it always returned foreign to his mind, desire strong and entirely new with every visit. 


The streets glowed with the quality of dusk; a pleasant grey and pink hung off the ivory buildings and falling, glowing lights. The man walked down these streets, a skip in his step as he took care with the cobblestones. He wistfully observed. Once, peering into a restaurant between the stone ivory, he saw it alive with the emotion of the evening. It’s heart beat with the slow, beautifully mindless wind of romance. He saw a couple perched at the window seat, the rich warm red in the young woman’s wine glass surely like the deep red they both wore for lenses. He remembered that they sat together, conversing lightly; knowingly but silently they both spoke of things to come. He saw an older couple, with their dessert coffee they sat at a table by the fire. Here, he did not witness a wondering intrigue but instead a knowing existence. The two eyes found each other in habit and ease, but spoke of a large and vibrant past. These two spoke and contained an adulthood of love in their voices. They both held a key to their own shared box of time, and it came unlocked with every interaction. How the traveller longed for a new romance to hold time, and become so that it glowed with grace like the fire in the corner. The entire city held a romance that moved with careless, wonderful experience and draped itself over fountains, over parks and over the windows of the townhouse top floors. Oh how he longed for himself to know a dusk-covered love, an easy but deeply red romance like the atmosphere of the city in the evening. How he watched in his calm, thoughtful longing, romanticizing whatever he longed to see beautifully.


    The travelling man breathed in the hot, but clear South American air. In Brazil, he immersed himself, allowing the translucent salt water of the ocean to energetically sway and he lay on the sand in the midst of the enthusiastic, absent-minded unit that comes with the sun and the season. The people laughed and talked in their lively, rising and falling language that spoke of family and expression.


    He lived in compassion here, he surfed with considerations for others and joined communities of friendship. The blue ocean and tan dunes could be seen in his eyes at first glance. Like the environment forms a relationship with the people he formed a connection with religion and his town. Here, he appreciated goodwill and simplicity. He was mindful with the words of others and he heard the flight of teamwork take off in unison. Here he was rounded, wise and courteous in his decisions. What a rarity it is to be truly humble, he thought.


       Flash forward two decades, the traveller was now forty-five years old. Dark red and green hues illuminated the commotion. The red tint from the festival lanterns dominated like his hunger. What was he hungry for? Hungry for a much-needed dinner? No, never that simple. He was hungry instead for prosperity, for a luxurious consistency, for his wishes to be securely possible. These things now seemed far-away and dim. How could he know prosperity when the closest example of this was the obese, harshly-featured market owner? How could he live with consistence when the fish he sold (the only job he could acquire) caught the eye of only a few passing pedestrians? How could he bask in the shade of security when each desire was now dangerous to his rationality? He toiled in the busy, foul-smelling market as he had for months past, never pausing to wipe the sweat from his brow. The wrinkles around his eyes and deeply carved near his mouth told the story of his labor. This nation that surrounded him had beckoned him as he lay in Australian dunes—called his name with promises of direction. In search of ultimate purpose and a sense of meaning, China had lured him closer with images of a complete, sweat-earned place in the world and later, amongst the stars. So here he worked hard, yet the importance of his discipline, while it proved substantial, still fell short before the grandness of his dreams. At home his wife, small and humming, often eyed the pictures of their children on the walls of their kitchen. They grew up sensible, smart and humble; all six, a product of the parents’ hard work. They didn’t consider thoughts of their father’s inadequacy and they did not, in their adult minds, blame their home’s cracking wall paint on his inability to change careers. They saw only his constant toil, his determined working. Could the traveller not see that they were his prosperity? These loving children who thanked him for all he had done gave him wealth in love. Could he not realize the consistency of his home? His children, always coming back to this place and his wife, by herself she was his home. Could he not see that his family was his security? His family which at the end of the day, waited for him in the blues of their house’s parlor, ready to secure him in their conversation. Their father became a relentlessly hard worker after eight years of chasing behind his visions, with years of this toil in his past and many more years of it in his future. He worked, and the country he lived in set up for him a backdrop of dark red and green persistence. He stopped to realize the meaningful wealth he had already obtained, only in that mindful haze between consciousness and his dreams.

The travelling man chased after his dreams and his visions of perfection, experience and worldliness throughout his young years. He saw colors and textures and a richness of perception which very few others shared. Through persistence and dedication, he learned the languages of every country he travelled to at a comfortably conversational level, and became fluent in the language of romance, of desire, and of toil. At the end of his whirlwind travels he decided to move to China, the nation of toil he felt would give him ultimate purpose and direction. Yet when he arrived, he was able to present to employers only a depth in knowledge of the world around him, of places and people, feelings and sprawling landscapes of memory. He did not possess an awareness of the algorithms and facts which the working world demanded of him. So he became a rural market vender of worldly experience yet of a small, insignificant exterior. People stopped to ask him how much his products cost; never realizing what lay behind the wrinkled eyes they peered into--eyes of a man who had seen everything. The man, while ultimately satisfied with his experiences, still felt his life was void of the meaning which he had initially endeavored to find. What he would come to understand only in his final days on Earth he would just barely recognize--the meaning he had created with his family. This was the wealth given to him by his wife and his children, who made him whole like his travels never could.

     And so it all came to an end

The traveller had dreamt and he had lived out his dreams. Yet his ultimate dream of realizing his life’s meaning became lost somewhere in his journey. When it was presented before him in quietness, he was unable to recognize it as it paled in the face of such bright lights found in Los Angeles and Sao Paulo. When he did in his old age, finally look into the eyes of his children and his wife with gratitude, the feeling of completeness he felt was one which made the beauty and sublimity of cityscapes and sprawling architecture appear insignificant.

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