I have decided recently that I spend a lot of time running. Job frustrating me? Hop on a plane. Trouble with friends? Hop on a plane. Feeling lost and uneasy? Hop on a plane. And as romanticized the travel life is, and as beautiful and raw and life changing as it honestly is, I’ve decided to finally stop running; to stop trying to cover a wound with a Band-Aid, to stop trying to begin a new chapter before finishing the old one. So I am staying still for a while, and the idea terrifies me! I almost liken the feeling to being introduced to meditation. In meditation, you learn to stay still and allow yourself to just be with your thoughts, and that is scary! We in the western world are so obsessed with doing more, and feel lazy to even allow ourselves to relax for 5 minutes. You are forced to face aspects of yourself that you may not like, and to confront problems that you had been pushing on to the back burner.
“Whatever it is, we think that once we obtain that goal, everything will finally make sense. Our anxiety will subside, and we will finally have the feeling that we know what we are doing, that this is where we were supposed to be all along. But realizations don’t work like that.“
In fact, we’re all searching for the same things. We all want to understand ourselves, our goals, passions, to find our “calling” – so to speak. We all want to believe that once we do this one thing, everything will fall into place. It doesn’t have to be travel- it just has been for me. It could also be getting the dream job, moving to the dream city, or getting that one new material object we want. Whatever it is, we think that once we obtain that goal, everything will finally make sense. Our anxiety will subside, and we will finally have the feeling that we know what we are doing, that this is where we were supposed to be all along. But realizations don’t work like that. Instead, we need to cultivate this sense of self-discovery and understanding in ourselves everyday. But how?
Many of the things that make travelling such an effective self-understanding tool is that we are forced to face many sides of ourselves that we may not have access to in the mundane activities of every day life. We grow to see what is important to us, where our weaknesses lie, what makes us tick, and how we interact with ourselves. Therefore, the eventual goal in growth through staying still is to cultivate this curiosity about ourselves every single day. Travel within your own mind. One way I’ve found to do this is through painting. Expressing myself through art has almost become a practice of meditation for me that has allowed me to explore my creative side, notice my tendency to be impatient, and allow myself to slow down and not feel the need to be so consistently productive. If you’re craving culture, all of us city folk are so blessed in the fact that there is so much culture in every single city. This summer in Vancouver I visited a Chinese night market, ate gelato at Italian day, went to a party for Mexico’s independence day, and watched the Indian Vaisakhi day parade. Regardless of where you live, you could join a cultural dance class, language lessons, or a meetup group of people interested in different cultures. I get to experience little bits of the world every single day just by living where I live and I think it’s so beautiful.
Does this mean I’m not going to travel anymore? Absolutely not! I have about 10 destination considerations for the next year, but I’m just learning to do it for the right reasons. Instead of getting up and running, I’m learning to facilitate solutions, to listen to myself and what my problem is trying to tell me. And at that point, when I feel like I have detangled the problem and built back up from it, when I feel secure in my life, that’s when I go. When I’m ready, not when I’m trying to escape.