On several occasions, I’ve heard the phrase “it’s not where we travel to but who we travel with that matters.” After a summer of visiting friends and family throughout the country, this saying has never rung so true. And I think it applies to life as a form of travel as well.
We can exist in our world today with enough mobility that we live hundreds, if not thousands of miles from people whom we hold very dear. We make friends in one location, (work, high school, our religious community, college, a study abroad program, our neighborhoods), and easily move on to the next phase of life in a completely different place. While we intend and attempt to “stay in touch,” distances easily rupture new and old friendships. Some how in an era of connectivity, we become isolated.
Modern communication technology does help us stay in touch with one another, but lacks the intimacy and presence that sharing the same physical space provides. I’ll take a five minute cup of tea with an old friend any day over two hours on the phone, or instant messaging, or even “face time” on my smart phone (not that I own one). But if who we travel with, on overseas adventures and metaphorically through life, is so critical, how do we honor the sacred bond of friendship with so much distance looming between us?
We commit to decreasing that space by traveling, by reaching those people in-person, not just over virtual images and words. Travel becomes that incredible bridge we need to reconnect with friends far away and from long ago. The old process of movement, of boarding a train, plane, automobile, bus or boat, or using our own two feet, can suddenly drop us off on the other side of a table from a friend.
We talk over delicious food in Chinatown, drink pints in the East Village, wander the late night streets of Queens, or walk up and down in the world on the Appalachian Trail. Whatever it is that we do, we are reunited, traveling together (however small the trip might be), once again.
So yes, who we travel with matters more than where we travel. But once we find those great traveling partners, it becomes as equally important to continue traveling with them, regardless of the distance, time, or worlds that might attempt to keep us apart.