For my part, I travel not to go anywhere, but to go. I travel for travel's sake. The great affair is to move. ROBERT LOUIS STEVENSON

Saturday, 7 June 2008

Discomfort In Paradise

Perhaps people travel for pleasure because the visual is much more memorable than the tangible, the seen than the felt. At the time, traveling may be nothing more than a series of discomforts in magnificent settings: running for the train to paradise in a heat wave, carrying an ever heavier pack in alpine splendor, seeing sublime ruins with stomach trouble.Yet it is the field of images and not the body of sensations that lingers. My mother once remarked that if women remembered what childbirth felt like, no one would have more than one child. And so I, third child of a third child, owe my existence to forgetting and my taste for travels to the dominance of the eye. I got up in Kenmare to find that a knee, a muscle, both feet were inexplicably wrecked as no no previous walk had ever wrecked them, and they told me of it with every step. The marvelous walk over the mountains to Killarney which I had anticipated for three days turned into a bus trip. Small waterfalls tumbling over rough rocks and into sinuous streambeds flashed by, shadowed by oaks whose branches spread at the same abrupt and undulating angles, invaded by rhododendrons, all among a complex of passes that shifted the view around in unexpected, abrupt ways. The whole landscape had in its very lines a kind of intricate, tangled wilderness I saw nowhere else in Ireland, and I had no chance to sort it out.

From A Book Of Migrations by Rebecca Solnit

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