I’m weird in the sense that I love things that most other people hate, such as the part of travel that is the trip itself. Long lines, bad food, crowds, cramped seats, delays, etc. Admittedly these are not my favorite parts of the trip, but the travel portion of the trip brims with possibility and change.
Like with any other transition, whether moving to a new home, starting a new job or relationship, trips connect one experience to another. Home to vacation, or possibly to off-site work. When I make the mistake of simply indulging my impatience to get to the next phase, I miss out on what is a potentially a gratifying and rewarding experience.
Take the waiting for example. I don’t love waiting. I’m actually an impatient person so you’d think the getting-there-2-hours-early –to-wait-in-line routine would drive me nuts. Most of my life, it has. But what I do love is giving up control of my experience to something so basic and simple as waiting. There is no one asking me to solve problems, nothing demanding my attention, no guilt about not going to the gym. There I am, alone in the security line with a hundred other people. I am just being. Observing. Sensing. Letting my mind wander. Checking in with how I feel. In short, waiting becomes a meditative experience where I practice letting go of control. Recovering control freak that I am, I need all the practice I can get.
No matter how many times I’ve been to a certain airport (or one that feels exactly like it), the airport experience is always new. Different time of day, size of crowd, mood of crowd, restaurants, shops, menus, etc. Inevitably the plane will then take me to a relatively unfamiliar city which will undoubtedly be different from my home town. No matter how sleepy or quiet, the visit will be an exploration of land, people and culture that will be filled with the unexpected. Even driving across my own state brings regional accents, foods, and practices that makes me re-examine what I take for granted.
Besides the landscape and culture, one of my favorite parts of travel is the close proximity to strangers. I know, you’re probably ready to institutionalize me. But I have a tendency to put my head down and forge through my day. Travel makes me stop and look around. When I put my head down, I forget to appreciate the mystery and wonder of each person that walks by and that we’re all connected in this beautiful world. People watching, chatting with strangers, eye contact however brief, are all reminders of this invisible but precious connection.
I have much to learn still about myself and our world. Travel to whatever destination requires that I stop and be open to whatever comes my way. This state of openness means that I receive new information (from within or from without) that I may be otherwise closed to. What better way to learn than that?