Friday, April 9, 2010

Philosophy of Travel/Childbirth

One thing no male writer is qualified to do, but he does anyway, is compare the difficulty of certain tasks to giving birth. The presumption he makes--one made out of respect to all women--is that giving birth is very painful. I do not pretend to know how painful it is, but I hear it is the single most challenging thing people go through on a regular basis. Writers are always looking for such superlatives to liven-up their writing.

To further trivialize this tremendous human miracle, I will say that I have found two things to be like giving birth. One is recording DJ sets (like this one), which involves about three months of pruning and planning followed by two weeks of strenuous labor. The other is traveling.

When I say traveling, I mean the travel days in particular. When an animal gives birth it is at its most vulnerable. Half-way through delivery an antelope cannot easily flee a lion. And so it is on travel days, where one must carry all one's possessions--passport, credit cards, laptop, everything--and haul the whole lot to every country's number one pickpocket/panhandling zones in order to move on to the next place.

Also like birth days, travel days begin with a mixture of excitement, fear, eagerness, trepidation, and then some life-changing epiphany. No city is ever what you think it will be when you roll into it, and no city looks very good during that first minute of seeing it. That's because train and bus stations are usually situated on the margins of towns; airports are located even further out, and so usually the ugliest side of the city, like a newborn baby covered in goo, is the first one sees. But every city I have visited has transformed into something beautiful.

So I propose a toast to travel days, travel stress, and doubtful first impressions overturned by joyful experiences.


  1. I think your analogy is spot on. Often people think traveling is all roses and sunshine (that is, people who don't travel much, or at all). But it can be hard, uncomfortable, disorientating, and frustrating sometimes, especially in the beginning, like you say, and even more so during an extended stay (traveling with more stuff; more uncertainties ahead).

  2. How dare you compare travelling to giving birth. It's nowhere near as painful.