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Traveler’s Curse

Traveler’s Curse is a story I ran across years ago that I connected very strongly with.

Traveler’s Curse

“I see. But have you ever heard of the Traveler’s Curse?”

“No, what’s that?”

“It involves experiences and their value. The more places you see, the more things you find that appeal and attract you. However, none of these places you visit have them all.”

“But the more you see, the more options you have to choose from, obviously.”

“Yes, but you’re not the same person you were when you began this journey. You have a larger body of experiences to reflect upon, and there are a greater number of things you discover that you love. As a broader person, chances are that the next place you visit has an even smaller percentage of these things, as the number you enjoy has simply increased. But you still find new, fascinating parts of each culture, landscape, cuisine, and lifestyle in these new places that it fuels an addiction to continue searching for your proverbial Final Destination. Which in turn, makes it less likely you will find that place, as you’ve developed this yearning for everything you’ve seen that any current residence doesn’t provide.”

“Well. I could always find a way to reconcile this fact – perhaps there’s a right place for me as a permanent residence, then places I enjoy temporarily?”

“The curse doesn’t stop there.”

“What else is involved?”

“Thing is, you’re meeting many people from all walks of life in your travels, and you develop a certain expertise in engagement – as you’re never in one place for too long, you learn to quickly foster deep connections by actively trying to understand others, willfully listening to their experiences and observing their way of life.”

“A wonderful skill, I’d imagine.”

“Yes, and you do learn to single out those who are worth cultivating a relationship with, because of the sheer number of people you meet. You find inspiring figures in obscure places, individuals who’d be famous if they’d allow the world to see them, and those with certain values that will force you to question your very approach to existence itself.”

“So, what is the problem exactly? This is obviously a very good thing by nearly any measure.”

“The problem, my dear friend, is simply that you will leave. Your skill in developing relationships has come from the obvious intuition that you won’t be around for long. Eventually, you will miss all of them.”
“Yes but –“

“Then you’ll become conscious of this fact, and try to change. You settle down, you stay somewhere and call yourself one of them, dutifully cultivating relationships once again, but this time with some sort of permanence in mind.”

“Ah, so that’s the key to escaping the curse. Recognizing your own wanderlust as ultimately damning, and finding solace in life’s imperfect nature, both in the landscape of where you call home and the people whom you declare your love.”

“Not quite, for a specific reason. Those who you’ve decided to settle down with haven’t lived a similar lifestyle, seen what you’ve seen, or met who you’ve met. You’ll want to communicate your experiences just slightly more than your peers want to hear them, and you’ll never quite be understood just as deeply as you’d hoped. They don’t see you as an entire culmination of your travels, and they will never be capable of bringing out parts of you that you’ve been forced or opted to develop throughout the years. What they don’t see will be disheartening, and you will always feel a tinge of loneliness.

“…Then what?”

“Then, perhaps, you’ll leave again.”

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