To take a flight, or boatride, or roadie, or train, or horse 'n buggy journey- all modes of travel expand the person you are. Or me at least and I'm just wantin' to hear from others who have killer experiences traveling- freeing themselves and taking in all the sublimation of the world.
Ya know I have a Celtic heritage and a while ago I got all nerdy about it and read up on Druidism and the like and I ran across one druid who said that they believe the path to enlightenment lies in motion. Literally moving, wandering buddha-like, Lao zi-like, jesus-like around your environment. Of course enlightenment comes in many forms and can be reached any number of ways, but travelling about isn't a bad way to go about it.
One of the best ways to discover a country is to take a road trip. The scenery itself changes from area to area, and you get to experience different parts of the country and the people that inhabit it. Plus, you have a lot of time to reflect while you're driving. So it's a really nice experience.
I have had my consciousness expanded while travelling. It probably happens all the time, but for me two stand out.
I spent 2 months in South America in early 2003 after a really awful couple of years. I was still stinging quite sharply from the pain of my last break-up. I was totally in love with this girl, and she, though she liked me very much, was not in love with me. Ultimately that kind of emotional imbalance in a relationship can only lead to pain.
So down in South America I spent 2 months walking around, seeing the place and thinking about who I was. Did a lot of growing on that trip, and recognized a lot of the mistakes that I make in relationships. I learnt, through a whole lot of intraspection, that it wasn't just "fate" that got me to a place where I loved a woman who didn't love me, but there was a lot of choices that I made that got me there. And now I have the knowledge that I hope I won't repeat them.
The second case is a bit weird, because it wasn't really a trip of self-discovery at all. It was a ski trip, for a weekend to Lake Tahoe, about 4 hours from my apartment in Oakland, California.
The skiing wasn’t great, but it was nice to be out, and the scenery was fantastic. But by the end of the day my knees were killing me and my legs were very wobbly. I headed back to the hotel and crashed on my bed. I looked over at myself in the full-length closet mirror and noticed that I had a huge gut sticking out. “Oh my God,” I thought, “I am really fat.”
It’s not that I didn’t know, realistically, that I was overweight. I weighed 235 pounds. At 5 foot 9, 235 pounds was pretty big. And every time I looked in the mirror, I saw the fat man looking back at me.
Inside me, though, I never really saw myself as fat. When I imagined myself, I imagined myself with the same thin body I had in high school. As much as I knew I was heavy, I never really believed it, until that moment in Lake Tahoe.
I don’t know what it was about that specific time and place that triggered the understanding. Maybe it was just the right time. Maybe it was all the bad things that had happened to me in the past few years – my mother’s death, my bad jobs, my unsuccessful relationships. Maybe it was my aching knees after skiing. Maybe there was something special about the mirrors. I don’t know what triggered it. All I know is that it was triggered, and I needed to do something.
Would I have come to these realizations if I hadn't travelled? Probably, but I think there is something about travel that allows you to focus your mind on you. There are none of the day to day distractions that cloud our thinking back at home. We don't worry about the laundry or the cable bill or that idiot at work. Instead we let our mind wander to places that we don't exercise at home. Travel frees us to look more closely at us, and those around us, and see them from a different angle for a change.
P.S. I now weigh 190 pounds (okay, maybe 195 after a weekend of binging on beer and chicken wings ), but feeling and looking much better.