On your bedroom wall there is a brightly coloured felt map of the world which you adore. Felt people, animals and objects are strewn over the globe, attached with velcro, waiting patiently for when you’re old enough to stick them in different countries. Every time we go in and out of your room you stare intently at the map, making your happy noises. ‘Where will you go?’ I ask, wondering how much you will see of the world. ‘Roo roo’, you reply excitedly, your arms flapping and legs kicking as you try to lean closer to the map. We joke that you are already planning your travels as your eyes survey the map, wandering from South America to Australia. You reach out and touch the felt; running your hands across the Indian Ocean, sweeping your fingers over Africa.
The animals have all crept north of the South Pole to avoid being knocked to the floor. As you explore the world with your hands, you swipe at the velcro figures in your excitement, flinging them to the ground. We stick them back up in passing – perhaps it is confusing for you that currently there is a polar bear in Europe, a penguin on America’s East Coast and a lion roaming the Atlantic Ocean…
I watch you gazing lovingly at the world spread out before you and think about the places I want to show you, the places we will discover together and those you will explore yourself. And I think about the time I spent travelling. Compared to some I haven’t done a huge amount of travelling. I haven’t been to South America, or Africa or India, I haven’t sailed around the world or travelled across China. But I have stood in complete wonderment at the Temples of Angkor in Cambodia, I have travelled along the Reunification Express in Vietnam and I have been moved to tears by the joyful chorus of a Sunday school choir in a Samoan village. For a while I had itchy feet, I wonder if you will too. How I hope that you will know the sheer joy and freedom of travelling, the raw delight of being abroad. I hope that you will explore this great wide world, visiting places that your fingers brush over just now.
The world will be waiting.