|Lonely shoe, Helsinki.|
|Sunset on the plane…
Always moving onward, but am I?
The afternoon sun is kissing the tops of the pines surrounding my friend’s house, and I am packing.
I’ve had an idea in my head for months now, and seeing as I’m in no hurry for once, this seems like the perfect opportunity to realize it.
I’ve been living out of my purple, 60-liter Osprey backpack for just under a year now. This is the second time I’ve done so, and I can pack in 10 minutes—15 tops—when needed.
Today, though, I take my time to fold my clothing into neat piles and gather every last small belonging into a compact square in the center of the floor.
I’m not exactly sure why, but taking stock seems important…
The more I travel and the longer I wander, the better I understand how much I need, and how much I am able to carry. (And still, always, it is too much.)
More and more, too, I recognize the difference between need and desire—the meaning of priorities. I don’t need even half of what I choose to carry with me. I do in fact need my laptop for work, and maybe a few changes of clothing and some warm layers.
But my practice poi? Small bag of jewelry? Pretty shirts, oversized headphones and red lipstick? Indulgences and whimsy—and I know it…
What I keep—I recognize I keep out of attachment, not out of necessity…
This is only what I can carry.
Some of it I need; some of it I want, but if it’s too much weight or doesn’t all fit, something has to go.
This isn’t for everyone; hell, it may not always be for me. Nevertheless, this is a viable way to live, and—I believe—a powerful exercise in living simply.
I hope these images might inspire you to try the same—even if it’s only for a walk around the block! 😀
[This is only an excerpt from a longer piece about this project written for elephant journal. For the full story please click here.]Continue reading
The past year has been anything but boring as vagabonded my way from Europe to Africa to the U.S. and back, teaching yoga, doing marketing, starting work at elephant journal and publishing over 100 pieces of writing along the way.
Some of it I’ve written about here; much of it I haven’t. I’m committed to keeping this a travel blog only, and so today, that’s what I’d like to focus my birthday reflections on: this journey.
A little over a year ago, I decided to go on a vision quest—four hungry days and nights alone in the Vermont wilderness.
I was looking for something… I didn’t find it.
I found nothing, in fact, save for a few lovely dragonflies, ducks, and one very long, very cold night stranded beneath the stars.
Traveling—maybe—is a little bit like that.
First, we answer the call. Second, we set out into the unknown. And third… third maybe we bring back nothing from our journey. What then?
As I’ve written before, I’m not searching for [fill in the blank], and so it’s very unlikely that I’ll find “it” anytime soon. And sometimes I find myself stranded beneath those metaphorical stars—cold, hungry or lost… or all three!—and I wonder how the hell I ended up there. What crazy, impulsive, excellent decision got me there?
But it’s always the right place.
The stars never wonder why I’m there; they know, and at least that’s one of us.
You see, I have a philosophy I love about journeys, choices and life, and it basically goes like this:
When I look at the year ahead, well, I do so with butterflies in my stomach and wings on my heels, because the forest is so vast—the paths so numerous—that I can take in but a fraction of it at a time.
And that is every life—not only mine. Every year, every birthday, every moment and every step.
I believe that, and the stars agree.
Thank you for being a part of this journey—as a reader, a friend, a star, or all three!
I wrote this list a few weeks ago as the realization dawned on me that, without exaggeration, I want to do “all of the things.”
There is not a country I wouldn’t want to visit, a language I wouldn’t like to study, an art or dance I wouldn’t want to learn or a food I wouldn’t want to try.
Whenever someone shares a story of adventure, I listen carefully—not only out of friendly curiosity, but also out of a vested self-interest—making mental notes for the day I can follow their trail, or blaze my own.
In the invigorating—and overwhelming—rush of ideas that tends to accompany an “I want to do all the things” epiphany (it’s not my first) I decided to try something new.
I decided to write it all down.
This list is a work in progress. I have surely forgotten things, and will doubtless add other ideas I haven’t even thought of yet. The list of places on the left is woefully incomplete, and I know I’m missing something major… no matter.
One thing is certain, however: This is not a bucket list.
These are not things I’m hoping to do some day in the future, before I “kick the bucket”; rather, these are (all) things I want do do now. Tomorrow. Next month. As soon as possible… It might take a decade or five, but I’m starting yesterday.
My list includes the following items:
That’s just a few.
Is it an extraordinary privilege to be able to look at every single item on this list as a real possibility? Absolutely yes. Am I still searching for the right way to be of service as I pursue these passions? Of course—although, since starting work at elephant journal I feel more assured of that side of things.
Perhaps most importantly, why? Why do I want to do/try/learn/see all this?
Why the tireless pursuit of adventure?
A little secret: There is no why.
There are secondary reasons—to learn, understand and grow are all real and valid motives. But they are secondary. The primary “reason why” is formless.
Adventure, travel, wandering, journeying for me have always been (and may always be) a raison d’être. A “why” unto themselves.
That is, I do not wander because ______, or travel to _______; but rather, when in movement, when in the pursuit of adventure, I have no need of why’s.
I do not wonder why I am here, what I should be doing or what my purpose is… I simply am.
And so I want to do “All of the Things,” because so long as this list (and its much longer mental counterpart) are close to my heart, my wings beat of their own accord. Existence, then, is its own end—and that is every thing.
|Stunning views from my seat flying Catania, Sicily to Istanbul (on my way to Stockholm…
I should not have opted to fly that way, and now I have no luggage… ah, well… collateral.)
Lately, I’ve been experiencing a sentiment I’ve never known before.
A strange tightening in my chest when it’s time to pack.
An odd sensation as I watch the ground shrink below me during take-off.
An unfamiliar twinge as I lift my hand to wave goodbye.
I feel excited to be continuing on to the next place—of course, that goes without saying, and, I suspect, will never change.
And yet… and yet…
I think I would call it nostalgia, this new feeling.
First it was Zanzibar, and now Sicily.
Maybe I’m growing sentimental in my old age. (Just kidding—my old age is a long, long way away!) Maybe I’m allowing the places (or these people… or these lives, discretely wrapped packages of time, space and possibility) I briefly inhabit to reach a little bit deeper than I used to—sending out just the finest roots beneath my skin.
Or maybe it’s an inevitable side-effect, which has simply run unrecognized along the sidelines up until now.
Wherever it comes from, this nostalgia weaves a duskier hue at the edges of my leave-takings. A slight reluctance (never stronger than the bolder urge to continue on, but there nonetheless). A bittersweet recognition that I may in fact miss this place (these people… this time… this particular configuration of life)—that I was happy here.
It’s the taste of the last sip of hot chocolate, and the color of the faded corner of a photograph. Savoring. It’s the feeling of lingering before standing up to leave a cafe… and it adds, I think, a lovely dimension to each journey onward—a depth, a balance to anticipation.
While this feeling—this nostalgia—is unfamiliar to me, I welcome it. I acknowledge it (for it undoubtedly deserves its place in the scheme of things), and then I leave it beside the photographs, memories and written pages—where it belongs.
So. Nolstalgia… welcome to the adventure!
2:00 a.m. Rome, Italy. Fiumicino Airport.
I arrive haggard, disoriented and ready to drop after a red-eye from Detroit, a 12-hour layover in Amsterdam, and a much delayed flight to Rome.
Naturally, my pack is last to appear at the baggage claim.
Even so, I fall into a taxi (my only option at this hour) reluctantly—unaccustomed to paying so much for so little. I direct the driver to Trastevere—my favorite Roman neighborhood, where I will spend the next five days. My Italian, which received a surprising amount of use in Africa, rises quickly to my tongue.
I sit back, desperately wishing, but unable, to sleep.
As the damp night speeds past my window, I watch it in a daze. Thanks to some alchemical blend of exhaustion and disorientation, I feel none of my usual enthusiasm.
And for what may be the first time in my entire life, I find myself wondering, “Why am I here?”
The answer is simple to a fault. I chose to come to Italy (rather than return to Zanzibar) because 1. I love Italy, 2. I speak Italian, and 3. It was easy to get here from Amsterdam, where I had an un-cancelable flight to anyway.
I have many times answered the question, “Why travel?” for my own benefit and others’. I have many times defended wandering as a path and destination unto itself. So why ask, why am I here? Why now, when finally I have a great job that I love and the first green shoots of a writing career to show for my efforts over the last year and a half?
|Jesus travels… and so can you!|
|Or you can do this.|
|If your bus looks like this, wait for the next one.|
|“Trunk-seat” heading out of Mbita, Kenya a few days ago.|
unknown beckon. From tides of intuition to tides of water.