I was not raised to travel. No other person in my family had a passport, that is, until my 3 nephews began a series of destination weddings on paradise islands. I didn’t grow up with atlases or travel guides or the gift of a ticket. My parents were steady hardworking Midwesterners, but my father, being an old Navy man, did love the water.
After I was born, we moved to a mid sized Mississippi River town and my father began to save for a small house in the country and a boat. When I was very young, we began a weekly ritual of camping on a sandbar and boating on the Big River. Our “church service” was our Saturday evening bonfire.
I’m not entirely certain, but I think the flame of travel was lit by my high school teachers. Bless my humanities & french language teacher, especially! She took me and a small group of students on a bus trip to French Canada. My world had been so small, that I was entralled with the uniqueness of the people and architecture both.
Travel has stretched me, and not unlike my yoga practice. I am able to know myself anew when I push my boundaries. I witness myself more fully at the far edges of my comfort zone, just as at the edge of a stretch. Now at the end of my sixth decade on this planet and my ninth journey in India, still I feel the tug of the familiar and I know I must press on.
Travel reminds me what I love, what I long for, what I fear, what my dreams are. Travel asks me for a hello and a goodbye in the same breath. I cannot remain unchanged, even as I strive to have some certainty and to forget that I will someday die. On the road, I simply cannot set my stubborn feet into the earth, hoping to quell my fears of the unknown. I am cast forth.
The fact is, I go because I have been called. I have been lucky. I have close friends who provided (life-altering) opportunities to hike and bike for long stretches at a time. During my first extended overseas trip, I learned the joy of an unstructured day and week. And now, I am learning the basic truths of the cultures I visit. In Bali, if you are unhappy, you’re basically a d*ck. The Balinese people are among the most light-hearted folks I know, even with a volcano in their back yard that could shatter their life mid-sentence.
In India, that basic tenant is “Adithi Devo Bhav”: The Guest is God. India doesn’t save you from yourself (that, dear friend, is an inside job), but I am secure knowing that I am protected, guided, and respected most of the time, aside from the ubiquitous tourist "scams". I can depend on being treated kindly, like I depend on the sun shining in Rajasthan.
If you travel to a place often enough and deep enough, you, too, will get to know its truth. And if that truth resonates with some long unmet need, your soul will find a way to cope with living at the far reaches of your comfy place. You might just find your comfy place is found in some unexpected location, far from home!
Be well, wherever your journeys take you!
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