i have been asked this many times since my return from mexico and central america. i wasnt totally sure… why i travel that is. people always ask why i went to where i had gone or what kind of project i was helping with. i must have been doing some sort of mission work, right?
without knowing it, for years i was just doing easy stuff. grabbing what came to me rather than doing something that required making choices, something challenging. i let go of things that i thought defined me, of things i did simply for enjoyment. at times i reacted in ways i didnt understand and said things i didnt want to say without knowing why. or, worse yet, pretended i was enjoying a conversation that i was barely even listening to because i was analyzing something else that had been on my mind or happened in the past. concerned more about where i was headed and where i had been, i became disconnected to what was right here, right now, seeing little more than circumstances at face value . i was either obsessed or completely detached, utterly passionate or apathetic. i was robbing myself of what days were really about, going through my days quite happy but not really gaining much or thinking too deeply. i loved where i was at and who i was surrounded by making it difficult to figure out why everything wasnt feeling exactly right.
so, for starters, i left because i needed to reconnect, sort of put some pieces together. it is hard to set an intention when you are not quite sure from what you are disconnected so i think that’s where i started. it came to me while i was wandering though. being removed from most of the comforts of a home routine i could take note of what true instincts i had…what i thought about when i had no idea what the headlines were or whose life we were talking about today, where i walked to, what made me think twice. it’s just really nice to have time to look at life this way. staying alone in guanajuato i was creating a standard for what this journey was going to be like and how to pay attention to the things i was hoping to tame and subjects i wanted to learn about. i was so lucky. i had another 4 months ahead of me, waking up every single day with nothing i had to get done. tasks were no longer tasks. it was living. i was living. i walked to the produce stand not to “get groceries” in my busy day but because it was fresh food, good food, and it was fun to look at what came in each day. i went to school and i studied, speaking spanish with new friends who all had fresh personalities. i thought about the people i already knew, people i interact with everyday, and thought about how great and genuine they were as well. i was benefitting from this outside or somewhat distant perspective.
as my weeks went on i saw a new and stimulating place every four days or so, soaking up everything i could and following what pulled me…more produce markets, inviting courtyards, late night food stands, and quiet, narrow streets-thinking more of my journey thus far and less about stress from home. friends came to visit and new friends were coming around more and more. one day i would sit in a hammock and write 10 pages about life, what i was thinking, what i was figuring out. one day i would walk the beach until i thought i had gone far enough and then i’d walk back, thinking of the creatures that used to live in all these shells, millions of shells, and how minute i was in this great big system. one day i would think of the past or what to do with the future and finally just let it go understanding that thinking of it over and over again wouldnt change a thing and didnt answer any questions.
one day i started pointing to things and just saying, “i like that. mmm, look at that door. i love the colors of that house. i like that tree.” between the random “i likes” we would laugh, eat entire red snappers, let pineapple juice run down our chins, and come up with a few new and very important “tree house dreams” (our version of a pipe dream i suppose). i realize now that an evolution of thought had taken place when i was eating at taco stands and walking down cobblestone alleys and white sand beaches. week by week my concerns about the “real world” had been kicked and all i could do was smile. smile about nothing when really i was smiling about everything. everything i saw was beautiful. everyone was beautiful. everything i have and everyone i know at home is beautiful. simple things made every day a wonderful day. this journey was like one, five-month-long meditation where, slowly and apprehensively, i let things go like ripples across the sea until the things rippled so far i could not see them and i could not touch them and the only choice i had to make was whether or not to be happy. there was absolutely nothing to be unhappy about.
i think i answered the question. i travel to get to that place. where i am able to let every bit of stress float away so far that i can be kind and happy and listen and laugh rather than react and continue to “push on through” the days that are supposed to be my life. so adjusting back i have to keep my heart open, follow its pull wherever it might care to go knowing that im happy when i follow it and when im happy, the people around me will be happier. and when people around me are happier, it will keep me happy.
"though we travel the world over to find the beautiful, we must carry it with us, or we find it not." emerson essays: first series, ‘art’ (1841)