If you are a regular reader of my blog, then you know I have an immense passion for travel. A significant piece of my daydream pie chart is devoted to wild imaginings that take place in Madagascar, Istanbul, Chile, Jordan and Israel. I fantasize about giving away everything I own and going on my own personal walkabout all over the world. Some day I might get to do this for an extended period of time, but for now I am grateful for all the little walkabouts I've been blessed with in some amazing parts of the world. Whenever I get into a conversation about travel, I always say the same thing - that I am much more mellow when I travel, much more open to letting each journey unfold however it is going to unfold. I may peruse a guide book to decide what area of a city I want to explore, but beyond that I tend go in the direction I've chosen and see where the wind takes me. I explain that there are things in my day to day life that have a tendency to upset me, annoy me and/or sometimes send me into a total meltdown, but when I'm traveling a lot of those same experiences simply roll of my back. My energy is softer, I observe more deeply, and I do a better job of accepting when things don't go the way I thought they would (mainly because I tend not to have specific expectations about my trips.) Every element of any journey I take is part of the story of that adventure.
And then there is my "real life"...the life I live at home with my husband, doing the work I do and trying to maintain, nurture and sometimes muddle through all my relationships. I realize it is not the wisest choice to wake up every day and just "see where the wind takes me" when there are bills to pay, responsibilities to manage and people to take care of, but it would not do me any harm to bring a little bit more of my travel-induced gentleness and flexibility into my day to day life. I might not be able to embrace a devil-may-care attitude 24/7, but I can put more effort towards appreciating that all the moments of my life - whether I consider them good, bad, fun, miserable or otherwise - are being strung together to create a wonderfully unique story.
The story of my life is being written right now, it is growing and evolving with every breath that I take. The days I have already lived now exist in the past, so those parts of my story cannot be changed. They are what they are, they have led me to right now, and right now I have very little to complain about. My life is much like the journeys I've taken to Havana, Tokyo, Sydney and even Milwaukee - lot of wonderful moments and memories, some frustrations here and there, a camera stolen, getting lost, not being able to understand what another person is saying, feeling deeply content, profoundly blessed, immensely exhausted, and thrilled about unexpected discoveries. I will never forget traveling in Rome by myself when I was 22 years old, walking through the city at dusk. I turned a corner and was taken by complete surprise when I saw the Colosseum in front of me, glowing beneath an evening sky. I was absolutely breathless. Sometimes magnificent gifts appear when we're not even paying much attention to where we're going. All we have to do is look up and see them.
If I were to get on a plane and fly to Amsterdam today, I would go with heart and mind open and a giddy excitement over all the unknowns. Perhaps I need to stoke more of those adventurous fires when I get out of bed each day. It is entirely possible I have separated these two worlds - my travel world and my day to day world - too much and it is time to narrow the gap between the ways I approach each of them. As obvious and meaningful as the "life is a journey" analogy is for me, particularly because of my love of travel, it is still all too easy for me to lose my way when I'm not paying attention.
But perhaps that is the key - that it is OK to lose my way now and then, as long as I make my way back to my own center. In those diversions and detours there are blessings and gifts and tools and messages, and every step creates a word, a letter, an image and a passage in the story of my life. Onward I go.