It may be important to state that one clear evening in July of last year, I waited in vain for the last metro train from the Eiffel tower, on the yellow line. There were a few people waiting at the station, but one by one they were leaving. Finally a janitor made it clear to the holdouts that indeed there was no train coming. Emerging aboveground, I decided to walk back to my hostel, on the other side of the city. I figured it wouldn't take more than two hours; a taxi seemed wasteful and buses imponderable.
Below is a map with my route overlaid. It must have been around 1 a.m. and I didn't see many people.
Maintaining a journal while traveling is difficult and, I've decided, unnecessary. The most important thing I hope to have taken away from my sojourn is a new perspective on time. Rooted in a place and routine, with each day resembling the days previous, my sense of time becomes warped. Days stretch to form a canvas on which to paint the fruits of a long list of things to do. There are few hard deadlines, and if I don't do something today, tomorrow it will probably get done, or the day after, and definitely by next week. Days blend together, such that I expand the possibilities of one day to all future days.
On the road, moving from place to place with nothing long-term to work on, geography defines the things that are possible. It becomes clear that if I don't do something that can only be done in this place, it will never be done, for tomorrow I will be somewhere else. Days are a block of post-it notes instead of a long ticker tape: I better be satisfied with whatever I sketch on one, for it will be torn off tomorrow.
This travel-mode view of time seems closer to the real state of affairs. Each day really is different from previous ones, if only because the latter are gone forever. It is okay and at times necessary to not do anything worthwhile in a given day; or to work on one thing intensely for a few days, but I should do so with intention, and not because I've ceased to notice time's course. I am thankful for having the chance to travel and to visit relatives last summer. This summer I will be biking from the Canadian border to the Mexican border along the West coast--a journey equally awesome!