Hello, my scholarly audience. I am sad to say this piece is not being written from the Middle East, but from my small Philadelphia suburb. I recently returned from living in Tel Aviv for three months that flew by far too quickly. I find myself writing to you today from my own travel-limbo. Being the aspiring nomad that I am, I have allowed myself only three weeks to soak up the American sun before heading back over the pond. I will spend the next five months hopping around the European continent, with my home base being a reputable institution of study in London, England. Even merely writing those words felt immensely intimidating, knowing just how little I knew about what the next five months would bring me. And it is with this article that I wish to express my newest revelation, my unhealthy addiction to fear.
What I have missed most these few days I have been home is the gut wrenching fear I felt being in the Middle East. I don’t mean fear of terrorism or warzones or encroaching fanaticism. I mean the fear that electrifies every bone in your body, the fear you can only feel from the absolute unknown. These past few months in the Middle East have taught me just how wonderful fear can be, and how much it can drive you to do things you would have never deemed imaginable. It is easy to think of yourself as smart, as capable and as “worldly” when your biggest move from was your high school bedroom to your college dorm room. And that constitutes a change, but not a change big enough to satisfy my fear craving. I yearn to wake up in a foreign place with faces I have never seen speaking languages I have never known. Israel was fear, and it was everything. Every day was absolutely terrifying, walking new streets and navigating new situations. New customs were daunting with new mannerisms to adopt. My blood pressure rose with the desert temperatures, telling my body that what I was doing was so incredibly new that no schema existed in my psyche to attribute it to. And it was with this anxiety that I finally felt alive. I felt challenged. I felt overwhelmingly overwhelmed and I relished every second of it.
It is this fear that I miss, and it is this fear that I will find again soon. It is this fear that alarms me in other ways, which tells me that one day I may exhaust the new places I desire so much and be forced to face a sort of familiarity with a place and a person. Society tells me that one day I should nest, that the notions of constant travel are nice but unsustainable. And to society I ask, why? So long has the conveyer belt of society dictated my path, pushing me from high school to university to the predestined law school which lies before me. I have hit the mandatory milestones, and still feel utterly incomplete. It is only when I move that I feel content, and I am using this article to firmly state that I am completely okay with that. I challenge my readers to realize that it is okay to break from society’s plan for you, to look convention in the face and say “thanks, but no thanks”. I want to carve my own path, and perhaps the simpleton Frost was onto something with his path less traveled theory. I am only happy when I’m totally lost, and that’s okay.
If you could take anything from this glorified stream of consciousness, I want you to look within yourself. I want you to think of exactly what it is that you cannot say aloud for fear of backlash or condemnation. I want you to say it aloud, and I want you to add “and it’s okay”. Because I mean it, it’s okay. Absolutism will have you believe there is one moral threshold we all should aspire to, but my preferred relativism supports you. Relativism knows your version of happiness is exactly what is meant for you. If you want to grow old in the town in which you were born, that’s okay. If you want to go to clown college and pursue your passion for pies to the face, that’s okay. And if you are like me, and you want to see everything and everyone and you want to do it right now, that’s okay. Follow your own morality. Mine will be full of the unknown. For in my mind, there is nothing as exhilarating as writing your own ending (in whatever language you choose).