This lovely essay by Deborah Davis describes her reasons for traveling despite, and because of, her paralysis.
I can relate.
Years ago, probably five years into what is now nine years of illness and pain and disability, a friend asked me a question. “How do you do it?” she asked. “How do you get out of bed in the morning?” She was referring to the level of pain I suffer on a near-daily basis. I answered the question thusly: “I can’t exactly tell you how. But I can tell you why–getting out of bed every morning beats the hell out of the alternative.”
It’s easy to forget, when every day is a battle against the pain, why getting up beats the alternative. When I start feeling my purpose slip away, I know it’s time. Time to plan a trip!
Travel may be the ultimate human experience. When I travel, I’m a person again, not a pathetic pain-and-drug wracked thing. All travelers experience difficulties and must negotiate hurdles–that healthy mom of two in front of me in the airport security line who’s got to get her toddler to give up his stuffed animal for x-ray might face different challenges than I do, but she’s gotta face them just like I do.
International globe-trotters all enter countries where they don’t speak the language and aren’t sure of the local customs. And they all feel some trepidation and excitement at overcoming their fear in order to see another natural wonder, climb another rock, or haggle at another bazaar. Business travelers must all overcome the little irritations that seem to cram into our carry-ons, from bad airplane food and working through the jet lag all the way up to the occasional terrorist incident.
I’m part of all of that when I travel. I’m also part of the fun, the exquisite joy of discovering a place that’s new to me. Nothing kills pain so efficiently for me as a bright shiny distraction, and The Road abounds with the bright and the shiny. On The Road, I’m another traveler seeking truth, experience, and a great glass of wine. How I wrangle my travel may differ from most travel writers, but not from most travelers, because everybody who travels has to figure out how to make it work best for themselves.
Whatever my diseases takes from me, travel gives it back. More than that–by traveling, I take it back.