In high school, I wrote this bit about how I wanted to make love to the Earth and its people.
I spoke of standing tall with the mountains, exploring deep and dark valleys, sweating out demons in the desert and being cleansed by the salty seas.
“I want to visit all the small towns, work all of the shitty jobs and meet all of the strange people.”
At that point, I had been across the United States and back with my family—moving basically every year or so. It wasn’t a big deal to learn that my father was changing jobs and we were re-locating across the country.
U-hauls, moving boxes, house hunting, new schools, new friends. Hours spent watching the countryside fly by from the back of an old Bronco. Resting in a nest of pillows with my sister and our feline siblings while Mom drove through the night. Once, I got an awful stomach bug on the way to Colorado and in the same trip, we had car troubles along a seemingly endless highway lined with cattle farms and slaughter houses…not fun.
At age 24, I have spent time in more states than I can count on both hands and in the past 10 months, have lived in seven different states. In this short amount of time I have learned more from movement than I ever have from any school.
Transience has its ups and downs, that is without a doubt, but with contrast comes growth.
Here are some lessons I’ve learned on the road:
1. It will fit if you pack it right.
While my mother receives the award for real-life Tetris master, I’ve picked up a tip or two about how to make things work— how to pack in such a way that everything I need is conveniently located and nothing gets broken or lost. Newspaper, re-usable bags and tightly rolling your clothing are key here. This leads me to my next point:
2. I don’t really need to keep that.
Or that, or that. My material life has taken a minimalist turn and I couldn’t be happier about it. As of now, my Earthly possessions are consolidated to a couple of boxes and a backpack and they continue to dwindle. Holding onto only the objects that serve a purpose or that I find absolutely beautiful has illuminated what I truly value in life. Travel light, live light, be light.
3. Public transportation is more beneficial than meets the eye.
I learned to exercise boundaries from a woman determined to talk my ears off, listened to captivating stories from an ex-drug dealer turned travel writer who was on his way home from Africa and even encountered a young man who claimed he was being followed by ill-intended aliens, so he lived out of his backpack hopping from farm to farm in effort to evade them. Oh, the curious people of this world…they’re absolutely hilarious and intriguing and everyone can teach us something!
4. People are generally kind and desire to help others.
I have gotten myself into situations where I had to rely on the kindness of loved ones as well as strangers for various things. A bus driver broke rules to accommodate my bicycle, I caught a last minute ride with a friend of a friend, my father moved me back home after I wrecked my car and ran out of money, my soul sister opened her life to me—sharing everything from her bed to her job, a stranger showed me how to change a tire and a potential landlord let me stay cost-free during my search for a home. (She even cooked breakfast from scratch!)
It is sometimes easy to forget the caring nature of humanity, but upon keeping an open heart and open mind, the love will outshine the hate.
5. You cannot out-run your shadows.
Once upon a time, I believed that moving to a new place would solve my problems; it would be a fresh start. To a certain degree this was true, as it allowed me to reinvent myself, but ultimately we are still operating from the same mind-set unless we make a conscious and sincere effort to transform. I learned the hard way and came out of it understanding that the mirrors in life may change but the reflections do not. Not until we choose to do the work only we can do for ourselves.
6. I am braver and more flexible than I thought.
I am uneasy in pitch black darkness and horror movies are not my thing…but transience does not scare me the way it used to. The idea of not having a destination or a plan used to mean certain doom to me. When you’re along for the ride and begin to trust that the Universe will take care of you and that you can take care of yourself, not knowing feels something a little more like freedom and opportunity.
7. Home is where the heart is, but stability is necessary.
Ultimately, I believe that home is a sense of comfort in your own being. As long as we have our own love, support and trust we are able to feel at ease most anywhere. However, there isn’t much that compares to that safe, nesting feeling of being in a home environment—especially when close to those who uplift us, close to our soul tribe.
We all need a place to land that allows us to process our lives and settle into ourselves for a while.
The moral of the story is that travel shows us the world we choose to see, and sometimes a world we wish we didn’t. When we experience newness, life unfolds in moments that are magical and moments that are messy—both which hold the key to a new level of understanding. Understanding of people, of wildlife, of culture, of ourselves and of the nature of the Universe.
Traveling is a sure fire way of learning something, so when you’re feeling brave, plan a trip—or don’t plan it—and see what the world has to show you.
Author: Taylor Bland
Volunteer Editor: Kim Haas / Editor: Catherine Monkman
Photo: Author’s own.