As a journalist and screenwriter, Russell Nichols finds inspiration from traveling as well as being still. For now, he and his wife live in Sacramento.
Looking over the vast landscape as a 12-year-old boy, I didn’t care about the rock layers or mountain formations sculpted by the hands of time. But at the edge of this natural wonder, far away from home, I remember feeling free.
I know my dad can relate. He’s been all around the globe, and has seen all sorts of monumental sites. Thanks to him, the traveling bug has been in my blood since birth.
“You can never really know the world unless you’ve been out in it,” he used to say, and seeing the world is something my dad did right.
But I didn’t always see where he was coming from.
Growing up, my dad would disappear for weeks at a time on international business trips. He traveled to places I only knew from social studies classes, slept under the stars in the Sinai desert, rode ox carts through Cuba and cruised across the Mediterranean Sea.
He would always bring something back – a T-shirt, a pendant, a trinket — a souvenir from each destination as if me and my brothers needed proof of his whereabouts. And perhaps we did.
His exotic excursions intrigued me like he was some sort of James Bond figure with a suitcase full of passports. I found myself researching foreign cities when writing my own fiction stories as a way to live vicariously abroad. But in fact, my mother was left alone at times to raise us as my dad traveled, and a giant hole formed in our home.
Still, I never forgot his words of wisdom to go out and see the world because it’ll help me grow. This philosophy informed my decision to move to Florida to go to college; and drive to Boston after I graduated for a journalism job; and fly to St. Lucia to get married on a beach. Next year, my wife and I plan to move to Asia.
Over time, I’ve come to realize the value in his advice: By traveling to unfamiliar places, we discover unknown regions within ourselves. Perspectives shift, perceptions erode. Horizons expand through new experiences. No wonder we feel free.
But from his absence, I also learned the importance of being present. Too much time apart can turn a slight rift into a grand canyon.
So I pack both of these lessons as I continue on my journey, holding fast to family as I follow in the footsteps of my father, the frequent flyer.