22 August, 2011

Ode to Travel

**NOTE: This is a previous post that accidentally got deleted when the blog went on hiatus. I happened across it again today, and thought it a timely reminder of why I took this trip ... timely because this trip is very quickly approaching its end. I hope it serves some benefit for you, too, dear reader!**

Please let me be the five millionth person to use this quote from the film version of Elizabeth Gilbert’s novel, Eat Pray Love:

“I’ve come to believe that there exists in the universe something I call ‘The Physics of The Quest’ – a force of nature governed by laws as real as the laws of gravity or momentum. And the rule of Quest Physics maybe goes like this: If you are brave enough to leave behind everything familiar and comforting (which can be anything from your house to your bitter old resentments) and set out on a truth-seeking journey (either externally or internally), and if you are truly willing to regard everything that happens to you on that journey as a clue, and if you accept everyone you meet along the way as a teacher, and if you are prepared – most of all – to face (and forgive) some very difficult realities about yourself….then truth will not be withheld from you. Or so I’ve come to believe.”

This quote is referencing a phenomenon that can (and usually does) happen when one sets out on a personal journey. This journey can be a physical one in which the body travels to new geographical and cultural locations, but can also be a spiritual one during which the seeker leaves the routine of more familiar habits, patterns and perspectives. In either scenario, the basic outline is the same: one leaves what one has created as home (literal or metaphorical), in search of the discovery of a more profound, connective, or resonant incarnation of Self.

It is not imperative to take a physical journey in order to experience the spiritual. Though, from my own experience, at least, it can speed up the process. Travel, especially solo travel, can provide a more potent, saturated palette with which one can make those first fledgling strokes on a newly naked canvas. It is one thing to declare that Change is needed. It is quite another to exact that Change while entrenched in the routines of Sameness: Same living quarters, same work quarters, same faces and personalities and interactions, day in, day out, same obligations, same expectations, and so on, and so forth. To travel is to set oneself apart from all that Sameness so that one can more clearly recognize new people, places, ideas and needs. Without a removal from the confines of a daily structured existence, it can be nearly impossible to even notice that a Change is required. It is only when the time and effort are taken to notice the Self that one is able to recognize one’s Needs. And Needs are ever changing things. Of course, there are the basic, primal needs of water, food, shelter. But our more personal Needs – those things required for us to exist as healthy and thriving members of the human community – these Needs are not static. As we grow and mature, our Needs change. And the only way to know if our current Needs are being met is to be aware of what those Needs are at any given time.

When was the last time you asked your Self if your body was getting enough exercise? When was the last time you asked your Self what kind of relationships would be most beneficial to you at this juncture in your Life Journey? Do you really know what your Passions are? And can you separate your current Passions from hobbies you practiced in the past? It is not to preclude that the whims of youth cannot become the passions of adulthood, but, rather, that what ignites passion in a person can change as that person is exposed to newness in the world, and as she/he grows in relation to those new experiences. When was the last time you checked with your Self to ask what ignites your passion? And a bigger question still, might be: When was the last time you dove into your Passion? I know many a once-passionate painter who has failed to lift a brush in more moons than I can count. I have been one of these passionless zombies, and am only on the verge of revivification right now. How easy it is in the numbing routine of modern daily first-world life to get lost in the mundane, and to forget about the very kernels of Passion that give Life its flavor. How sad that so many of us lose our appetite for Self-Fulfilling Life, and replace it with the bland gruel of Conformity and Social Expectation. It is crap, in my humble opinion. And I believe most of us are in dire need of a big, fat enema. Let the Waters of Life whoosh in and clean out all the bullshit that is clogging us up so that we can once again assimilate the nourishment that full spectrum living can afford us.

This is why I travel. To cleanse my Self. To open my eyes to what Life really is, and who I really am within it. To change my perspective when I start getting stuck in the rut of a passionless life. I want to lust for Life. I want to live Life in high definition with surround sound. I want to really feel the earth beneath my feet and the breeze against my skin and the beating of my own heart as it swells with excitement or ebbs with contentment. I want to see the world and all its beauty and wonder, and I want to see myself mirrored in it so that the world is a reflection of me and I of it. I want to contribute something to my human community. I want to discover what it is that I can contribute that will be of value. And I want to savor every moment, every flavor that Life offers, be it bitter or sweet or both intertwined. This is why I travel.

And as I travel I grow. I step out of the hamster wheel of Same and onto a long and winding path of Newness. I am forced to pay attention on this path. I am offered the opportunity to make choices based on what pleases me in the moment within the confines of my available resources, even if my choice is to make no choice at all, but rather to let the path unfold and see where it takes me. Freedom is a wonderful teacher. She is at times lenient and carefree, and at times the headmistress of difficult Life Lessons. But every lesson is necessary and valuable. And I am only one of a great sea of students. One tiny pupil on a quest to find my Self. A perpetual student of the Academia of Life with infinite lessons to learn. I am hungry for knowledge. I am regaining my appetite. And I am gearing up to take a bite out of Life.

On that note, I think I’ll break for lunch. May you all enjoy sucking the sweet marrow out of Life today and every day! Xoxo!


  1. Hello traveller. How was lunch?

  2. Nicely put! Thanks for sharing.

    While you were away, we got together with some fellow travelers to share many perspectives of traveling, shedding of old stuff/selves and being from "some place else" (and how common these feelings are these days). We want to do it again in the fall, and hope you can join us this time!


  3. Akira: I would love to join you! That sounds amazing. Hope to see you soon!