At the end of May, Handsome Husband and I will have been on the road for 4 years. Wow. When we began this venture, I couldn’t get past the idea that we were even doing such a thing. Four years of it wouldn’t have even registered!
My anticipation of what this traveling life was going to be was so different, so much less, than my range of thought now. I’d only tapped into the narrow top of brain matter when I thought ahead to traveling. I was excited about it, and enthusiastic at the idea, but my heart and soul hadn’t yet been engaged. No surprise there-how could I have possibly known what was ahead, other than some vague idea?
There is a richness now of the concept of travel. It isn’t at all what I anticipated. Well, yes, I’m seeing places I never thought to see. And, yes, I’m definitely meeting new people. And having adventures. But oh, lordy! it’s so much more than that.
My blog has never been, and never will be, a true travel blog, in that I don’t focus on the hotspots to visit, or do bungee jumping, or sky-diving, or eat at fancy restaurants, or backpack the Andes, and then write a review. All of which are exciting to do (I’m lying-it wouldn’t be at all exciting for me to do the first two, not for me). That kind of travel is not us. We’re doing this on a shoestring so that we can continue doing it, we have nobody paying our way, and that changes it up for us. We find our fun and adventure off the beaten track (read: free), with National Park passes (that pay for themselves very quickly), local hikes, and low-cost hotels. We aren’t made of money, the changed economy has had a huge impact on us, but we want to continue this, and that means trade-offs, and a willingness to tighten our belts.
I’ve found that when travel becomes lifestyle, when it isn’t vacation time, it changes everything. The Buddhist principle of non-attachment comes to mind frequently. Physical possessions, mostly gone through donation or selling. In preparation for living this life, we sold our house and most of our belongings; what was left went into storage, and much of that is now gone too. Each time we visit our belongings, we cull through them and donate more. What’s left? Some clothing. Heirloom type stuff that I’ll pass along to our kids once their lives are stable. A sturdy desk where I plan to plant my butt and write someday- (all those books that are milling around in my head)! A couple of pretty lamps that I’ll use once we settle down. Really not that much.
Shedding the outward “stuff” as that great man, George Carlin, calls it, has led, necessarily, to contemplating the inward “stuff” and, yes, shedding what doesn’t work or isn’t necessary.
Here’s the thing. Yes, there are many people who already know this, but for those of you who don’t, let me share what knowledge I’ve acquired about what we carry around in our heads and our hearts that just isn’t crucial to our lives. (And you don’t even have to climb to the top of a mountain to find me sitting in a lotus position to get this from me). The inward stuff can take up just as much room as the outward stuff! Its burdensome, and blocks creativity, and is, generally, just very weighty. What kind of life is that? For me its been a natural progression. I’ve shed so much of the external, and I’ve looked around to see what else is taking space, and realized I’m living pretty minimally externally, so I turned inward to see what was there that wasn’t necessary. Maybe something that has served me for a time, but I just don’t need anymore. I took a look.
Here’s the question that gave me a clearer understanding of travel. Anybody can go places and do things and have fun and adventure. That can be done locally or world-wide. But what about letting our minds travel? What about unpacking our internal suitcases and ridding ourselves of the baggage that is not only unnecessary but taking up space? I wonder now-what am I carrying around internally that isn’t even mine, but something that was taught as a social structure for no other reason that it was, well, a social structure? I don’t know that I can even verbalize exactly what those things might be-certainly its different for each person, but I know to the depths of my soul that I’m carrying such baggage with me, and its time to get rid of what I don’t want or need. Old habits of thinking, perceptions of self, un-named fears, (how about plain old fear of pushing my boundaries?), fear of being uncomfortable, fear of expecting more of myself, fear of fear.
I want to travel lightly through life, not just in reference to external possessions, but holistically: heart, body, mind, spirit. I want to be the arbiter of my own soul. I don’t want to be owned by social construct (wow, I just impressed myself with that phrase)! of gender and how I should or shouldn’t look, or religious fears and threats of eternal damnation if I don’t believe in a pre-ordained way, or societal expectations and what I’m supposed to want (and I include in that the idea that I’m supposed to want to visit Europe and discover everything there, as if it’s not a total, time-consuming, and completely worthy, adventure, seeing America).
My mind is opening up, expanding out, pushing past, being inspired, and seeking. I’m gaining more confidence as I become less bound to outcome and expectations. (Am I starting to sound existential yet)?
Travel. Its what’s good for you.