You don’t have to go far.
But you must go.
You must go to a world beyond reach of the one you have come to know.
You must go see how it changes the makeup of your skin and your mind.
How being flung far into the flurry of foreign language, where no one knows your own, sends a shiver of panic to your bones. How the layers of ruby and gold sunsets water your eyes and inspire your heart down to its deepest depths.
You don’t have to go far. But you must go.
You must go see how capable you are of softening around the hardened edges of your comfort zone.
You must see the markets, the colours in a rainbow you’ve never seen before, the simplicity of life, and the hardships you will never have to endure.
You must see the great giants that live in the forest, a melodic muse of a nature you never knew existed.
You must listen to the birds there.
And you must taste the milky tea of an ancient tradition held in the smoky hall of a hundred men.
And you must hold on to the smell of saffron in the cobbled alleys.
But do remember, you don’t have to go far.
You only have to go far enough to not know where you are. Where what you once knew is diluted by the things you learn and see when you are gone. Where the stories you told yourself unravel from the outfit you’re accustomed to dressing yourself in each day.
You must go.
Go where you could change your name and no one would notice. Where the air is slightly different and the people stare. Maybe you want to go to the woods. Or to the beach. It doesn’t matter. Want to go to the desert plains of New Mexico or the rolling hills of Ireland? Go there. Maybe you want to go to Bali or Beijing, the Himalayas or Iceland. It doesn’t matter, as long as you go. Just make sure you take with you an openness to grow, a willingness to go back home to yourself, and the courage to accept what you find there.
And when you go, you will uncover the truths of your darkness and the power of your light.
When you do go, you will see navy seas and deep layers of forgotten hills in hues of indigo and forest green.
You will see unimaginable beauty, and you will see heart-wrenching suffering.
You will also learn the secrets they don’t want you to know.
That the puppeteer show is not a show and we are the puppets. Our cords are as long as our unconsciousness.
So wake up and go.
Go where you are called and the moon is higher.
Go where a meal is $1 and made of real food.
Go where the rivers are polluted but the people are caring.
Go where you are pointed at.
Go whether you are welcome or not.
Go where you are swindled to stay by the light on the lake.
Go where the roads are windy and you pray for your life.
Go where you must learn a new skill or drop a bad habit.
Go where the geckos laugh and the butterflies play.
Go—young or old, sick or healthy, rich or not.
Go where you have to tell your story again and again, each time with a different spin.
You don’t have to go far. But you must go.
Go, not to erase the pain but to loosen your hold on it.
Go, not to escape life but to draw a deeper meaning out of it.
Go to bring the air down to the bottom of your lungs, to experience a layer of awareness sparkling below your skin.
Just go to experience a kind of life foreign to your own, the lack of familiarity connecting you back to the basics: food, water, shelter, human connection. Suddenly your needs and wants recalibrate and dwindle. Just go to see how you react to the stares and the smells, the loneliness and uncertainty. See how your mind changes and expands.
See, travel will do that to you.
It will refine you rather than define you. It will mold you into the one you are meant to be, not who they want you to be. It will erase the illusion of life as we once knew it, stripping away the distractions of nine-to-fives and 401Ks. If we unclench our attachment to the manipulated world, we can step back into our spirit before we were broken-in and manipulated.
And if we can step into our natural spirit, we can step into a life without distractions, fears, insecurities, and pain—because for all we know, this is all just a dance.
So beyond the rigidity of our routine existence, beyond what we thought we wanted, beyond what we thought we deserved, I challenge you, from the depths of my wild and free heart:
Author: Julia Mertz
Images: Author’s Own
Editor: Catherine Monkman