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The reason behind a journey

Actualizado: 28 oct 2018

It’s impossible to predict when a journey will cause a major impact on your life, so major that you might deviate completely from what you thought you were meant to do. And even then, it is hard to guess the small changes that will happen after the time has passed, including a few good years.

Senegal was one of those journeys.

I visited the country almost 13 years ago. I wasn’t so passionate about the African continent back then. But the opportunity appeared and I simply flew with it.

I ended up in Dakar, spending a full month at African dance classes.

Senegal was an amazing experience for the dance. It was a full immersion on connecting movement to life in a very basic way. The rhythm, the vibration, the passion, the expression, the day to day of it, the dance was really present everywhere. Dance was used there to express the self but also to celebrate with family, friends and neighbors.

It was a big party.

But, on the contrary of what one might think, it wasn’t the dance that evoked the big change in my way of understanding things.

The experience that struck me the most was the eating.

At my parent’s house it was forbidden to eat with the fingers. Of course, it’s part of our education as a European, Catalan family.

Forks, knifes and spoons.

All good.

But… I actually like to touch food with my hands. And until then I thought that probably everywhere else in the world people were following my family manners.

So here it is, Senegal, with a majority of Muslims, people eat with the right hand (the one used for ordinary things, because the left one is used for the “impure” things like going to the toilet). So… you seat on the floor or at a table, as a woman normally just with women, and you eat from a shared big pan in the middle. You take the rice with the fish or the meat and some vegetables, you do a ball with your hand and you put it in your mouth. Just like this.

Aaaahhh!!! My mom would freak out if she would know the amount of germs and infections I escaped back then.

This was my first realization about how manners are a contextual habit related to a specific place. And this is just an innocent example…

Something that I experienced in all my travels is that there are no general or universal agreements on aspects that are contextual. Just because they are too much connected to education, culture, social status, economic situation, and narratives from a specific geographic place in the planet.

They are all particular, specific and diverse. But they coexist as a whole and, for sure, they CAN enrich each other.

Once I read, that a journey really happens when there is a difference between how you were when you started and how you become when you finished. So, one can say, what we understand as a journey occurs when transformation happen.

Or in other words, that I especially like because of the dynamism of it: A journey is the process of becoming something else.

One might question the need of transformation at all. It’s a fair question. But just like the nature of everything, it is in a constant change, the idea of static is just a trick of the eye. There is movement all the time, whether you see it or not.

In my experience, an inner transformation starts when contradictions appear. And a journey, most of the times, becomes a situation with lots of them.

There are always several ways of seeing things, understanding things and feeling things... And all of those co-exist in the same place, whether it is a physical or an internal space.

Most of the time, it’s almost impossible to arrive into any certainty.

Sometimes it is possible but it is just difficult to hold on to it.

There is a presence of vulnerability in it, which makes me create fictions of right and wrong based on mental structures that seek for a sense of control. And in this process there is too much focus on the differences like a “with me or against me“ type of thought.

But some other times, it’s just liberating and exciting to see the richness that no certainty allows, because the possibility of connecting things in a diverse way is always there as a potential to be fulfilled. Just as creativity.

So, whether I wanted or not, travelling and being confronted with all of those differences forced adaptability in my way of being. It brought distance and perspective to the narrative, image and construction I made about myself and about the world around.

So then, and sometimes, I found enough freedom to differentiate what’s imposed or acquired by my context (even if is in an unconscious way) and what I choose to identify myself with.

The choice becomes a constant option that allows the freedom, which also comes with responsibility. But that’s a fair price for empowered actions in life.

Travelling becomes a constant reminder to not get attached to any mind-set so strongly, a reminder to not become static in my way of thinking and how I approach life.

Change is always present. It is in fact, the only constant that we have.

Probably that’s the beauty of it. Even with the acknowledgment that sometimes, you long to just go back and stand again in the place where you started.

And then, I come back.

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