This morning was fresh and warm, I enjoyed the after dawn golf in full swing. The PAF course is well manicured; it is a testimony to the zeal of the management’s neatness. Golfers don’t lose balls here unless they drop it in water or hit out of bound over the wall. On the other side of the fence is Lahore’s bustling international airport. Playing under recurring inbound flights instigate wanderers like me to get into one and fly away from home. Like the migratory birds, I used to go to North America each summer but this year I am caged behind the invisible bars of COVID-19. I miss playing on the New England courses where summers are milder than Lahore.
These days, this course is missing the descent of international airliners that used to fly over the golfers’ heads while trying to land at the adjacent airport. Since most of foriegn air traffic is on hold because of the pandemic, the skies are emptier than usual. Today I only saw one airbus inclining by. The roar of the landing aircraft untapped a sprinkler of old memories and new dreams in my mind. I am a compulsive tourist, wanderer of the world, and a traveler of the globe. A restless drifter of the continents, a backpacker by choice and rover like me can’t be stuck in one place for long. The urge to go somewhere takes over the rest of my desires.
I came home after a good round of golf, still a part of me was looking for something more. I believe that we will overpower this virus and I will be roaming around the streets of far away cities soon. In the meantime a stanza sparkles in my mind, “not all those who wander are lost.” I open safari to search for the rest of it;
All that is gold does not glitter,
Not all those who wander are lost;
The old that is strong does not wither,
Deep roots are not reached by the frost.
From the ashes a fire shall be woken,
A light from the shadows shall spring;
Renewed shall be blade that was broken,
The crownless again shall be king.
― J.R.R. Tolkien, The Fellowship of the Ring
After a great session of golf, a hot shower combined with tunes of Guns & Roses “Sweet child of mine” makes my morning even more mesmerizing. The only thing missing now is the hot and healthy breakfast. As I entered the dining room, I saw my sunny-side up eggs glaring at me. They could see their demise coming towards them. Before I had the chance to devour them, I got a call from my office. I was informed of an urgent meeting to be attended in Islamabad, I agreed even before they finished their sentence. My excitement of traveling even to the nearest of places could not be hidden. As if, I was already waiting for the inevitability to come across my way. There it was knocking at my door, eager to fall into my lap. I didn’t get on a plane like I wished this morning, still I was on the road, on the move.
Paulo Coelho describes this situation best, “When you want something, all the universe conspires in helping you achieve it.”
Journeys are not sheer travels, sometimes they are spiritual and internal. A journey of the soul is a walk you take alone, to find who you are, what your problems are, and to become one with the universe. This is an adventure that you go through by yourself. It’s purpose is not to find answers, rather it is about asking questions. It sometimes is like a cacti’s journey; without water, without fertile soil in vast meaningless sand, it grows, survives and flourishes. Other times it resembles the life of lichen that sprouts from snow and ice.
We cannot lead our lives merely on wishes and comforts. There are times when the going gets tough. People who remain composed in the face of failures or victories alike are the actual winners. Those who stay grateful even in scarcity or in affluence are the true travelers of life.
Some travels are made from inside of a prison cell like Nelson Mandela’s. Mother Teresa took her selfless tour of passion and presence. Abdul Satar Edhi created a world’s largest web of ambulances to protect life. Forrest Gump ran in search of the soul. Christopher Columbus sailed to discover new continents. Neil Armstrong rocketed to reach the moon. Malala Yosafzai made a fatal journey for females’ right to education and Greta Thunberg’s voyage to save the earth are a few expeditions to consider. Life itself is a journey, we keep going nonstop to destinations unknown. A seed also begins its growth from under the soil, where it’s sowed, to transform into a grand tree only to fall back on the earth to be buried again. No matter what form of a journey we choose to take, we ought to go somewhere. Idleness is lifelessness. Movement itself is the sign of life.
Golfer, entrepreneur, blogger, poet, author, wanderer