If you travel (or live), where the mother tongue is not your mother tongue, you will struggle. The mundane will become complex and challenging, and you will no longer take your habitual fluency in the everyday for granted.
This is a good thing.
It shouldn’t be easy. (Or at least, I strongly believe that it is through challenge, discomfort, dis-ease that we grow best.) So, this is my travel manifesto for you…
Go out into the world, and struggle:
Struggle, to purchase underwear.
Struggle, to ask directions.
Struggle, to talk about the things that matter to you.
Comprehending the cost of your coffee will be a minor victory.
Catching a compliment on the first go will be cause for celebration.
Navigating a simple interaction will thrill you—as it never could at home.
These are all very good things.
For it should not be easy, this day-to-day living.
It should not be easy, this being in the world.
So struggle, to take the bus.
And struggle, to order at the bar.
Struggle, to understand.
Struggle, to say you have understood.
For it should not be easy, this everyday living.
It should not be easy, this quotidian life thing.
When it is easy, we forget—
We forget that buying our coffee is in fact a minor victory,
that a compliment is cause for celebration,
that understanding is a miracle,
and being understood doubly so.
and don’t forget
that it is a privilege to move through this world with grace.
And when you do forget,
as, invariably, we do,
Go out again
Remember what it feels like
to struggle for the simplest of rewards.
Remember not to take
anything for granted.
Remember how to move
through this world
— Monday, 15 May; train Barcelona—Paris
*Image photographed in Belleville, Paris. Artwork by rnst.