Travel or Did you find what you were looking for?

Travel is a funny concept. The whys behind it. Some people travel to check continents and countries off their list, some to increase the percentage of the world they've visited for Facebook applications. Others skip off to sunny resort spots for week-long beach vacations spent mostly by the hotel pool. For some travel is a bug, an addiction. I can't say what the addiction is exactly. It's exciting, it's constant learning, expansion and the chance to test yourself a bit, in total immersion. That little thrill you get when you fly up and away, watching the city shrink below. Your mundane problems shrinking with the city. Or when you hop on a bus, leaving town A and headed to town B; those moments between places tend to grace us with extreme aliveness. That odd joy I experience on buses is reason enough for me to travel. It feels like sticking your head out the window of a car at high speed. For a moment there's too much air to take in so that you can hardly breathe, and then you do breathe, deep, full, exhilarating breaths.

This morning I was wondering, as I occasionally do, what my family and close friends must think of me sometimes. There's Heather off to another country, trying to learn another language... For what? Even if nobody else wonders, I guess I do. In Puerto Natales, there's a pretty hefty community of expats, and we are all a little nutty. Maybe everyone who lands somewhere else is either running away from something or searching for something. Before I left the States, over two years ago now, many friends said: I hope you find what you are looking for. Someone even asked me recently if I had found what I was looking for. I can't say that I've been searching for something in particular, and even if I was, I still haven't the foggiest idea of what that thing might be.

What I have found is that everything we need, we already have. There's nothing magical to discover. Maybe just a slight flip in perspective. Instead of outside, look inside. That's the stuff of enlightened beings at least. Since I am not one of those, I have to settle for vacillating. When I notice I'm looking in the wrong direction, I try to refocus. Focusing on the 'right' thing is a constant struggle of course. (Meditation helps a lot, but first you have to meditate regularly, which is also aided by a settling down of sorts.) I certainly didn't have to travel at all to come to these probably obvious realizations.

While abroad I found some things outside myself, as well, like the love of my life. So, I feel pretty darn lucky, since it was highly unlikely we would have met if I stayed in California. Who believes in destiny? :) Of course it's pretty unlikely that we met in the deep dark south of South America, too, since I'm from North America and he's from Turkey. I certainly wasn't looking for love, especially not in Puerto Natales. Now here I am in Turkey, on the road again, not settling down as planned. Travel is a funny concept and life a green live thing, as a frog or a blade of grass.


Elena said...

Heather, I love that you are updating your blog again. Your writing is beautiful, and I love you too :0) Tim says a late (like year late) 30th b-day celebration in the DC area might be in our near future. I have my fingers crossed. XOXO

Heather said...

aw, thanks, elena!!! i love you and i can't wait to meet gabriela :) if all goes according to plan, tim & i will be there to celebrate our 30s! i have my ticket to the states already, for the middle/end of october. besos!


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