The concept of escaping, leaving, getting away has always interested me as travel is often another synonym that is associated with the word “escape.” What are we trying to leave behind? What are we looking for? Why do we have a desire to leave? For me, it’s a restlessness that I often find myself in; a desire to find something new and that often leaves me blending into the crowd and standing out at the same time. Escaping can often have a negative connotation, but I lately think its inherently a part of being human, the need to move and discover. Last year I took a fascinating class about drug policy from an anthropological perspective and studied the theory of a fourth drive, a human thirst to discover different forms of reality. I think escaping might be the fifth drive, and for some of us, it is more potent or has been exposed more at specific points of our lives.
One of my favorite parts about living in Boulder and going to school here is the ability to leave and feel like I am completely somewhere else by hiking up the flat irons. I have done this hike countless times at all different times of the day with anyone who wants to go with me. My favorite time to go is in the earl morning for sunrise, which requires waking up before five to make it to the top. There is something about being able to stare down at the city below with all the lights shinning that puts me in tune with the bigger picture and puts my worries at ease. Life looks pretty small down below, significant and mundane in one moment. Sometimes its scary to feel like nothing is in our control, like life is just happening and we are just along for the ride. But it’s equally frightening to feel like its all in our hands, that the way our life is playing out is because of a series of conscious and unconscious decisions we have made and are making.
It’s no secret that being in nature is peaceful, relaxing and not to mention, absolutely stunning. But it’s also incredibly influential; I often have some of my most creative ideas and sparks of passion while away from the everyday routine and noise. Hiking up the flatirons at Chataqua is always a great reminder to me of the beauty that lies right in my backyard; that I don’t have to travel to an entirely new country to be away. I have often heard from other travelers that once you start traveling, its hard to stop. I find that to be entirely true. Once you get a taste of the rest of the world, you have a thirst, a fifth drive, that never seems to be quenched. I have been incredibly fortunate in my life to have been to so many different parts of the world, but there is so much left to discover. So many new places and people to find and meet and fall deeply in love with. My friends often joke that the last place I’ve been is my favorite and the place I want to move to, but it’s true. I know someday I will miss Boulder dearly and will have a deep yearning to go back, which is something I have to remind myself now. Going for hikes around Boulder is a great reminder of this. Anything outside the classrooms is a great reminder of how beautiful and inspirational the world is, especially the world that immediately surrounds us.
Sometimes staying, while challenging, can be equally if not more powerful and influential. Last year I went to a panel titled “Traveling is a Privilege” at the Conference on World Affairs that provoked a lot of interesting thoughts for me. I asked the panelists two questions about traveling, one of them being what the power was in staying somewhere. Instead of them telling me that they thought there was a power and beauty in staying, they shared with me that if you stay, you never know anywhere else. This wasn’t said with a positive or negative connotation, but just as a statement to ponder, which I still am to this day…