Since my first Nat Geo World magazine, I have spent much of my life mesmerized by different cultures and places. By collecting stamps, postcards, and photos of exotic places, reading stories of adventurers and linguists, skimming travel articles on distant lands, and studying the food, religion, and beliefs of foreign locales, I kept an ever-burning flame of desire to visit and live in new destinations. Learning about others, even those in the next town, teaches us about ourselves because our current perception filters through our life experiences. Travel becomes an extraordinary catalyst for growth because it forces us into a new experience and, by extension, new reference point. In our daily non-traveling life we may achieve this through meditation, yoga, reading, journaling, introspection, and interactions with others. Our self awareness in these moments depends upon whether we are committed to growing as a soul rather than aging as a human.
Our self awareness in these moments depends upon whether we are committed to growing as a soul rather than aging as a human.
My life feels like a paradox. I need efficiency yet loathe routine. A predictable progression of life feels suffocating, yet I love setting goals. My soul craves exploration and adventure and traveling helps me connect with kindred spirits while part of me enjoys the feeling of “coming home." The persistent “itch” in my life has been searching for how to create the thrill of travel adventure while at home in an ‘ordinary’ daily life. As abundant, beautiful, and diverse as America is, and despite my absolute gratitude and patriotism, only upon my leaving does a gate open to fully appreciating its gifts. I feel overstimulated with media and capitalism [even without owning a television], and the slog of life resembles sifting through the cereal box of information for the prize, only to discover a plastic ring at the bottom of a non-nutritious, sugar-laden toxic foodstuff box.
So many of us harbor dreams from childhood, tucked safely away. We shelved them through societal messages and ill-conceived beliefs about what we “really” need to be happy. [Cue The Rolling Stones Satisfaction lyrics: “When a man comes on the radio to tell me just how white my shirts should be…”]. We never feel fully satiated, of course, because desire also compels us to grow, if we honor and respect it. But that takes effort and involves emotions, expectations, and unexpected life events. We convince ourselves we can access our dreams later when the circumstances are right. And like most items boxed and placed in storage, we soon forget they exist.
We never feel fully satiated, of course, because desire also compels us to grow, if we honor and respect it.
Hollywood tends to create movies of happily-ever-after in some love stories and fairy tales. It also creates movies where the key character finally achieves the dream and then the other shoe drops and life falls apart. Does this program our minds to believe that if we get what we want, it will then all go away? We cannot grasp water in our hands. Life must move and flow. We can stay exactly where we are as life moves around us, or embrace that life is evergreen and a series of meaningful moments. We inhale, we exhale, and we pause in between. Savor the pause. Rather than hoping this moment will be different in the future, or lamenting it is not like the past, truly grasp the perfection of the very moment without a need for knowing what the next step holds. Knowing every step creates a linear progression of predictability that lacks magic and spontaneity. Find comfort in the unknown, and solace in the faith that a non-linear life experience surpasses anything Hollywood could script.
Every moment you can make a fresh start on a new path.
Do something different today. Now.