June 10, 2013

Travel: Finding The Courage to Take a Leap.

Why do we travel?

We want to escape. Learn. Relax.

We want to experience life differently than the everyday. We want to take the time to nurture ourselves; alone or with loved ones, and meet strangers who don’t know anything about us at all. It’s a chance to get away from our habitual patterns. Experience new or hidden territory within.

The great unknown and unexplored, or just untended tender parts of ourselves in a fun way, reflected by a bigger world.Something happens to me when I even think about traveling. Something close to mischievous. My appetite swells and I become ravenous for the road. An easeful smile comes over my face, when I think of who I will see, what I will eat and the general relaxed feeling a certain cultural atmosphere gives me. It’s like a massage of the senses. A total turn-on. If I were to have an addiction, this I imagine, is what one feels like. Because if I couldn’t travel, I would feel…bound.

Of course maybe not everyone loves traveling. The romance for the old days of exploration is hardly what it once was. Albeit treacherous, there was a sense of adventure exploring the unknown as the intrepid, unstoppable traveler. Now, we are dealing with a different sense of the unpredictable just to get places we already know are friendly.

Yet, the risk is not in getting on a plane, although it may seem so. The real risk is what it takes to say yes. It’s time for me to take some time for myself. ” As you strode deeper into the world, determined to do the only thing you could do~determined to save the only life you could save.”  (“The Journey Mary Oliver; New and Selected Poems Volume One, 1992)

A wise man (my former husband) would say, “find reasons to do things, not reasons not to do things,” whenever I was ambivalent about making a decision, which was often. After a while, it started to sink in. I’m beginning to believe that being hesitant is part of being human. As if venturing out into the unknown still has the fear of the Neanderthal.

“Something is going to get me.” Rather than, “I’m going to get something.” In reality both is true.

“I’m going to get it, if it doesn’t get me first.” Anything can happen at any time.

There are no guarantees. Life is uncertain. So what does that mean? Should we live in fear or should we live in courage? We are not living if we stay safe and protected or hold ourselves back. So, if we live with courage, what are we going to get? That’s the million dollar open-ended question. We don’t know. But at least there is the element of surprise. What’s behind door number one? We are a curious species. That’s how we made it as far as discovering fire. At least someone thought out of the box, used his or her creativity. Someone was motivated and more than likely…hungry.

How can we find ways to open ourselves up to the unexpected opportunities and connections that might take our life in a completely new direction? Trusting in this impetus to go, instead of looking for reasons to stay—whether it be timing or expense or hesitation?

Eighteen years ago I decided that I wanted to take the leap and learn a new language. I was 35. It was a rather unexpected, high-pitched voice that came to me when I asked myself, “What is it that you really want to do?” And this voice just sprang from who knows where… “Study Italian!” I questioned the voice, but paid attention the next day when I ran into a well-known Italian Professor quite by accident and I asked her if I could audit her class at the University. She agreed. One week later I was studying Italian. At the same time, doors went flying open and red carpets were unfurling. From saying Yes to that, I took a trip to Italy that spring and on the first day, my business was born.

Today, my life’s work has become holding the space for others to take journeys into new tastes and textures and ways of seeing. For myself, traveling and connecting through food is what sets my inner gyroscope twirling like a dervish. I find home, a delicate balanced tender spot, keeping my seat while moving; not unlike meditation, where we stop to let the world swirl around us.

Having the possibility to be mindful, inside or outside, moving or still, is my idea of making the most of this life. Bringing more meaning into my belly not only creates more joy, it inspires me to be more alive and creative in the every day. Conversations have more depth. My cooking has more to offer. My relationships are happier because I have tended to what moves me. I have more to give, because I am rich with experience. I had a chance to schmooze with humanity, break bread, share a smile and remember what this living thing is all about: seeing our similarities, rather than our differences.

No longer questioning who we are, we “find our place in the family of things.”

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Asst. Editor: Edith Lazenby/Kate Bartolotta
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