I recall an assignment in the second grade in which we were asked to write out our life dreams.
The typical bullet points included being rich, owning a Ferrari, having a dog…okay, so that was my list. You get the idea. There was one common denominator as we proudly announced our goals: travel.
I want to travel the world.
Learning to write cursive and watching Reading Rainbow, we were all confident that we’d be sojourners, tasting the flavors of foreign lands.
Age sets in. Instead of I want to travel the world, we begin to think, Someday, when I am rich, I will travel. Years pass. We work, we marry, maybe have a child. If we haven’t forgotten it, the idea of travel becomes a distant possibility of a family vacation or a once in a lifetime trip. When I turn 50, I’m going to Italy!
Travel is like having a child. There is never a right time. We never have enough money in the bank, nor do we have the time with our busy career. There is simply too much to do. Leaving everything behind for two weeks is crazy.
These days, I only reveal my travel plans to a few close family members and friends. When I tell an acquaintance that I’m taking two weeks off work to explore the Dominican Republic, the first question is why? The assumption is that it must be some kind of business trip. The second question is how? (As a side note, I am writing this from the Dominican Republic).
Travel is a spiritual practice, and it is my greatest wealth.
I just bought my first used car at age 25, but I’ve spent eight or nine months in foreign countries. Being submersed in a foreign land and a new culture is like super-yoga 24 hours a day for an extended period of time. Self-reliant, present and attentive, insights pour in like a waterfall. I suddenly see my life in the US from outside of myself—my habits, my trajectory. When I come back, it’s a rebirth. I am a new man, ready to reinvent myself and appreciate the gifts all around me.
On this particular trip, and as I write these words, I’ve realized how much I was drowning in stress. I’d began to sacrifice yoga, meditation and living in the present simply because I’d put so much on my plate. When I return at the end of the week, the plate will be there. And I’ll be ready for it.
I don’t know how I do it. I simply do it. I’m not from a wealthy family; I’m a graduate student and part-time employee. The fire to see and explore the planet Earth blazes through the obstacles,each and every time I decide I’m ready. If I have to eat bread and cheese the entire time, bon appetite!
Planning is minimal. I carry an inner compass and go with the flow. Yeah, it can be scary. Sure, it’s dangerous (sorry, Mom and Dad). If I think too much about it or plan to far in advance, it doesn’t happen. I see it all the time, in myself and others. Six months from now, I’m going to Spain! Then I ask how the trip was. We canceled it. Something came up.
Tell your boss you’re taking time off in a few months for a trip. Then forget about it until the time comes to buy the ticket. Then forget about it again until the week when you have to pack and prepare. Dive in, march forward into the uncertainty, and see the world.
The chapters in our lives should be filled with color. Each page should have a unique smell from a unique place.
When I’m in my rocking chair as a grandpa, I don’t plan on saying: Clean up your toys! Rather, with a toothy grin, it will be: Did I tell you about the time I got lost kayaking in a river full of alligators? Or how I learned to dance in Costa Rica?
Love elephant and want to go steady?
Editorial Assistant: Tifany Lee / Editor: Catherine Monkman
Photo: Wikimedia Commons