The stories of Gaia (also spelt, Gaea) are abundant. She is the mother of the Titans, the daughter of Chaos, and the Greek Goddess of Earth. Some believe she is the Earth’s spiritual embodiment. Others just know her simply as the Earth itself. For me, she is Earth itself, this beautiful planet we live on and which she inspires us to explore.
In 2013, the European Space Agency (ESA) launched a space telescope named Gaia, which is (as of this writing) on a mission to chart the Milky Way galaxy. The goal is to create an accurate, three-dimensional map of astronomical objects throughout the galaxy and to capture their motion path.
I’m obsessed with all things ‘space’ and am a strong advocate for space exploration, but I often have to remind myself what a gem we already live on. It’s easy to think there is nothing left to be explored on Earth, this pale blue dot, as our beloved Carl Sagan presented it to us. Indeed, it is a small, insignificant rock in the vast landscapes of our universe. However, just because others have sailed every sea, climbed every mountain, and leaned forward with extended arms in an effort to ‘catch’ the leaning tower of Pisa, doesn’t mean that you wouldn’t want to be offered the opportunity of a new perspective or a new discovery.
It is life, life that matters, life alone – the continuous and everlasting process of discovering it – and not the discovery itself!
Hi, my name is Keira Dazi, and I owe most of who I am to my need for ceaseless exploration. I do admit that some of us are born with it, that insatiable need to be somewhere else.
When I was around 9 years old, I spent a lot of time looking at my dad’s road maps and discovered a city called “Hawaiian Gardens” which was not far from my home in Anaheim, CA. Enamoured by the idea of someday seeing the Hawaiian Islands, I thought this sounded like a mini oasis in the middle of a concrete mecca which is what surrounds the 5 freeway between Orange County and Los Angeles.
I filled my pockets with change and dreams and embarked on a solo bus ride to my promised oasis. Of course, it wasn’t anything like I imagined. I found myself very disappointed at the smoggy waves of characterless strip malls, casinos, and yes, more concrete. There must have been a fountain with palm trees somewhere, but that could have been my memory embellishing to humor me. Aside from all this, and the fact that my parents were pissed at me for putting them through a few hours of extreme distress when they couldn’t find me, I knew there and then that I had gained something big from my pathetic little journey. A need to know and discover this planet we live on.
As a young teenager, my dad refused to teach me to drive because he was convinced I’d randomly drive off to New York. It’s like he knew the future, because eventually I did just that (though not randomly in this particular case). Thereafter I traveled to other continents, explored new cultures, learnt new languages, made new friends who are very dear to me, and experienced living a life that was unfamiliar to me. I found myself traveling for love at first and then, at times, for work but eventually I traveled to escape. Nowadays though, I travel for that seemingly naive reason I had as a child: to discover.
So much of who we are is where we have been.
The places you’ve been, the people you’ve met, the stories you tell of the sights you’ve seen and the stones you’ve touched, all help create a more compassionate you. You’ll be immensely thankful for what you have, and awestruck at the realization of how little it matters not to have everything. How little you need to see the world to truly live in it. Yes, travel builds character. Yes, travel makes you adaptable. Yes, travel gives you courage. But besides what you gain, there is an unexpected beauty in your discovery. Your movement itself is your search for truth.
Truth is trying to understand the magnitude of the world. To feel ourselves soak into every pore of this planet. To experience humanity from such proximity that you feel every breath, touch every hand, hear every tongue, sense every sorrow, experience every joy, and notice every difference, small or vast, of each and every moment that belongs to another human being. Then, having explored so much, to see the world from a distance which was once thought to be visible only by cosmonauts. To see it all as the swaying and swirling unified mass that it is. That is truth.
I hope this little space on the internet inspires you to explore this Earth and helps you find ways to make your own dreams to explore and discover new things possible. I want to provide you with, not only the tips I’ve learnt along the way, but also the courage to pursue and explore. Only when you give priority to travel will you discover that there is nothing stopping you but yourself.
Sometimes I feel it deep within my ribs. The insatiable need to show everyone that travel is possible, no matter what your situation is. It’s all about making it a priority. Often, as a budget traveler, you’ll hear, “must be nice”, but those people don’t see the cheap hostel you stayed in. The don’t know the projects you put on hold back at home. All they see are your Instagrams of jaw-dropping landscapes. But, somewhere in between those cheap hostels and those jaw-dropping landscapes are the people you’ve met, the stories you’ve heard, and the many lives and cultures you’ve experienced that didn’t cost a dime. This site is not for those who want to travel. This site is for those who need to travel. For those who need to explore what the Greeks once called, Gaia.
Happy exploring, fellow Gaianauts.