Wanderlust isn’t my thing.
Never have I ever felt the urgency to purchase plane tickets to a foreign country because the thought of planning a trip abroad brings me severe anxiety rather than joy. I wouldn’t self-identify as a “traveller” (although my airport routine is a tried and true science because your girl doesn’t want to bear the shame of holding up the security line). I don’t have a bucket list of places I would like to visit before I die, because truthfully I could die tomorrow having never visited any of those places and I would think that my fully restored self is more preoccupied with the fact that I could see like 8,000 more colors or something and resurrected Jesus is handing me a cup of water-wine rather than spending eternity regretting the places I hadn’t seen on Earth.
But when I turned 18 years old I got my passport. Not because I was going anywhere but because I wanted the ability to go everywhere. Collecting all of the freedoms offered to you is a thrilling thing to realize as a young adult. Especially for a cautious girl who used to like to get close enough to her fears to feel the heat of them but never actually do anything about them.
My passport’s most recent tattoo is from London, where a friend and I met to play tourist for a week. Honestly if you travel for no other reason than just to experience life with a friend you enjoy, then that’s a good enough reason to buy a ticket.
We spent most of our days exploring the city via the London Underground, which if you’ve never heard of it is basically London’s subway system. If you have heard of it, then you’ll recognize the saying “Mind the Gap.” It’s a very George Orwell 1984-ish intercom reminder that there is a small space between where the tube loads and the edge of the platform. If you’re not aware of it, then you could fall to your inevitable death or dismemberment. “Mind the Gap” is the perfect blend of a logical, safety reminder with dark, British humor. Most people probably disregard this announcement as background noise and common sense.
The things that are repeated, normalized, and routine are when I feel closest to God. It’s a liturgy of the everyday. Things like my morning alarm or making the same breakfast or hearing “Mind the Gap” over and over again for a week straight somehow are written in all-caps to make me notice them. It’s these things that make me want to bring them to you.
Sure. On this trip I danced in front of the Tower of London, felt things in the Tate Modern, strolled through Notting Hill just like in my favorite movies, embarrassed myself in the best way at local pubs, and tasted the stars in a bottle of prosecco but what I’m taking with me from this place is to mind the gap.
You could stay on the platform all of your life if you mind it too much. The Gap could control you. Its constant reminder of your own mortality could paralyze you into never leaving home ever again. Fear is my most familiar feeling and they say that the only thing that kicks it to the curb is perfect love. Love is a verb. You can’t love if you don’t step out and move. So mind the gap but realize that there are things that matter more than your own fears.
And then again, not paying attention to where your feet are could be the end of you. You could seriously injure or damage yourself or other people with your own recklessness getting to where YOU need to be. So mind the gap because love looks around.
“The mere exercise of attention – eyes wide, ears pricked, heart open – is not a bad way to move through the world.” // Mary Karr
Eyes wide. Ears pricked. Heart open. More human and more whole.