The Dixie Chicks once sang about the travelling soldier. The song is an expression of the fleeting affection received by small town American girls from the deeply enigmatic soldiers on leave from war. However, it’s the sentiment of the title rather than the actual story that reflects something much more infused in the fabric of reality. Yes the song is absolutely divine and has probably been responsible for more sexual awakenings than Misty from Pokemon, but its depiction of what makes a travelling soldier is factually incorrect.
A travelling soldier is someone who inspires those of us that are on the road. There isn’t really any particular criteria for a travelling soldier. It’s more like the old description of pornography on the internet, it is just something you’ll know when you see it.
I was lucky enough to witness my very own travelling soldier. Despite the occasion being New Year’s Eve, when everyone is trying to be their own hero, this one travelling soldier climbed his way above the rest and etched his name in travelling folklore. I was at the Hogmanay Festival in Edinburgh – an occasion where all the senses are engaged. A sea of other travellers trying to ring in the new year doing what they love – getting absolutely poleaxed with complete strangers.
Courtesy of Travel Massive Global, P.B.C.
You could be forgiven for thinking that the midnight fireworks would have been the pinnacle, but whilst you might be forgiven, you would still be wrong. While nearly all of us accepted that we were just entities enjoying something bigger than ourselves that night, one man had other ideas. One man dared to dream. One man said ‘why not me?’. This man was a travelling soldier.
As thousands of people crowded around the many stages of performing acts, giant pillars stood erected from the crowd like a teenagers pants at a promiscuous dance. The sheer vertical limit enough to deter Bear Grylls from climbing. In order to ascend to the top the fundamental laws of physics would need to be broken. In the face of this adversity one man was able to declare: new year, new me. As the clock began the countdown to the ushering of a new year, this pioneer began to attempt the impossible climb.
He began to force his body up the smooth pole, having nothing but his unwavering determination to cling on to. Although this man had the weight of reality weighing down on him, the support and desire of thousands of onlookers was raising him up. Much like the common slug tenaciously sliding its body upward towards the precious treasure of the succulent leaf, this hero slowly slithered his way towards glory.
With one last thrust as the countdown dwindled into the seconds, the travelling soldier reached the pinnacle of the pole – and life. That moment, much like what had been digested by many of those in attendance, was pure ecstasy.
As we we were celebrating the arrival of the new year, we also celebrated the fortune of witnessing this true travelling soldier. A true story of triumph and tribulation. So contrary to what the Dixie Chicks will have you believe, this is what a true travelling soldier is.