I find the hardest part about travel is returning home – sinking back into the routine of normality and stasis. It is easy to be swept away into states of longing and begin to dwell on cravings that are impossible to satisfy in the here and now… cravings that would require some kind of sporadic time travel between working to make travel a reality and the art of travel itself.
This polarity between want and desire can become something that really pulls us out of the present moment and grow into damaging thought patterns if we are too caught up in a recent past. We begin to feel our experiences fade away by the day, rather than focusing on how this time has shaped the present moment. These decisions on how to integrate our travels into daily living are all completely dependent on perception. During this process, and it is most certainly a process, it becomes necessary to allow our mind to wander and to be free, for the memories of our adventures to sweep us out of a reality we have known, and into a reality we can shape.
For when we travel, no matter how far, we are forever changed in some way. We see, feel and hear something outside of our daily life rhythms… and this is good! It is a big part of why we travel – to shake ourselves up and out of the ordinary and to take charge, or not, of everything that we find in our new surroundings. We see and hear differently because we allow ourselves to, and pushing the limits of our self-conscience back into progresses of the daily grind is the surest way to feel trampled and damp. Yes damp, for this thought process is like summoning rain clouds on an otherwise beautiful day. It is unfair to do this to ourselves and the saying ‘I need a holiday’ becomes a very strong reality in these situations. Often a depressing one as the finances are usually a little dry after extended periods of travel…
Freedom of mind
It is on returning from travel that we most need to give ourselves a break. To be gentle and to listen to our heart’s desires in letting our mind wander, ponder and dream about a different reality rather than dwelling on a past experience that was. The trick and the art of travel is not so much in the passage of movements away from home, but in the re-centring on returning home… to marry past and present together in a way that best defines the new self and open way of seeing the world around us. This window of opportunity to integrate change does begin to fade the farther our time abroad stretches and so the ritual of centring past experience into the present actions in our lives becomes so important. It is a way both to honour the time travelling while simultaneously resting healthily and at ease in the present.
Having an anchor, like meditation, to return to is an excellent way to offer the grounds of space while allowing stability and importance in the present moment to unfold. We must be gentle on the spirit when returning home. If travel has been a process of ‘getting away from it all’ we must remember that no matter where we go we take the whole self with us. Travel can offer a beautiful ground for change but again, change is a constant process and not one that happens overnight. We change during times away from the familiar, however we do not become an entirely new person and sometimes the discord between the old and new self can be quite jarring on return.
Any problems or obstacles at home are still a part of the self and although we gain a great deal of perception from stepping away, we do not automatically solve problems by going elsewhere. There are ‘pre’ and ‘post’ travel rituals which can be a great help to this adjustment phase such as cleaning out old belongings before a longer trip away, making the bed for when we return weary and dreary, or even laying out a beautiful notebook and pen for our settling mind.
Travel allows us to be impeccably present in our new experiences and adventures in the big and small moments of each day. This is a really exciting process and one that can enhance the way we live our lives at home if we allow it to. Allowing the mind to rest in the beauty of experiences past is one of many ways to ease back into our daily life. It is important to stay present while also allowing a gentle connection between that which has changed us and the person we are in the here and now. Travelling is a beautiful ground for change and reflection on the self, and one that is so important. It may not involve going far, but going somewhere is such an important aspect of our lives and one that can change us for the best, both while voyaging and on the process of returning to wherever home may be.
Allowing space for longer-term change
Sometimes we discover a new home and, no matter how hard it may seem, we feel a pull to make this a reality. It could be a move from city to countryside, or perhaps one as extreme as going to the opposite end of the earth. Either way, the process of perception and reflection runs true to any form of travel and the gravity of the current self and discovery of who we can be outside of our current living situation is a wonderful part of the human experience. It could be as small as walking up a new hillside and looking into the distance or as large as hopping on a plane to fly away somewhere new; travel is an important area of the human psyche and one that can greatly benefit the way we live and see the world around us.
“… learning does not consist only of knowing what we must or we can do, but also of knowing what we could do and perhaps should not do.”
Umberto Echo – The Name of the Rose