Story by: Nick Zuch Photo by: Dante Scarano
When Dante extended me an invitation to become a guest blogger on his website I was not just excited to write without the shackles that is postgraduate studies, but I was ecstatic about trying to rationalise the beauty of travel. (I’d be lying if I said it didn’t feel good) In my first blog post, like any grad student, I wanted to create something that summarise to the readers what they would get in one of my posts. “Why do I travel? Why do I travel?” I must have asked myself this question a thousand times through the course of the last month. It isn’t to party non-stop, or to seek out the most renowned tourist sites of the world. It is something much deeper than that, an ideal attached to the core of my being. After long bouts of deep thinking in the shower, I’ve returned from the depths of my psyche with a shining gem of my personal philosophy. It is this golden nugget of an idea that will be the sun that my blog posts revolve around.
Through one of my recent scrolls through Facebook aimed at distracting me from a certain writing block, I stumbled upon an article about parenting that struck a chord deep inside my being. It is still permeating through my thoughts now, now before you say “What the Hell? I thought this was a blog about travel not parenting!” bare with me. I promise there is a method to my madness.
The article, “The Anti-Helicopter Parent’s Plea: Let Kids Play!” By Melanie Thernstrom (seriously check it out. Really interesting.) The article spoke about how the most creativity the modern child in western society comes from a screen or an activity monitored by adults. Mentioning a newly created word “playborhoods.” Playborhoods in reference to neighborhoods, where all the kids on the block knock on each other’s door’s after school to assemble for their next adventure. The streets where, no matter rain, snow, sun, a group of kids can be heard making memories that they will fondly look back on when they’re older. The more I read of this article, the deeper I slid into all the memories of my own “playbourhood.”
Now before I go any further I want you to do experience this for yourself. Just for a minute or two. Block out the outside world, close your eyes. Take your mind back to the memories of your youth. Think back to playing games with your best friends at the time. Think about the exhilaration of doing activities that were dangerous or that was against the rules. Let these thoughts trickle over you like a perfectly warm shower. Throwing rocks into the neighbor’s pond, playing ‘capture-the-flag’ until we were swallowed up by warm summer nights. I bet you had the same feeling I did while reliving all these glorious (or not-so-glorious when getting in trouble) moments. Free from the stresses of the world. Free from overly structured lives, or the mega-sheltered environments that parents can create. Free to allow moments of play to teach us life-long lessons. Free. Does that ring a bell? It did for me too.
No matter what the activity was whilst on my travels, this beautiful sense of freedom comes through. Climbing the never-ending steps to the tiger temple in Krabi, gazing upon the magnificent Iguazu water falls in Argentina or playing school games for hours on end with Zambian children in Kabwe. This freedom, a sense of playing like a child, in which learning through playing was always present.
Every year I grow older I am immersed more and more in the monotony of adult life. As I drive down this one way street into adulthood, I am hit with more and more of the stress. SMACK! University assignments crash into me. BAM! Side-swiped by working long hours on to be paid primarily in experience only to guide my future career. The list could go on but I would rather not suck out any more enjoyment out of myself right now. The pattern remains clear, the further I evolve into a modern day adult, the more removed I find myself from these feelings of freedom we take for granted as kids. This is an unfortunate fact that I’ve come to accept. Though I will never forget is that every time I embark on a journey, whether it be with myself, the love of my life, or my best friends, I can count on this feeling of freedom that only a child experiences, will always find me.
It is these experiences that I want to share. I want share the experiences that filled me with this elusive feeling of childhood freedom hoping that by doing so I can help someone else rediscover this often hopelessly buried under an avalanche of adult stress. Thanks for listening to my waffle on and hopefully you didn’t drool too much on your keyboard while I put you to sleep with my rambles!
Happy travels freedom seekers.