I was perusing the Interwebs the other day and I came across this beautiful quotation:
“I am here to seduce you into a love of life; to help you to become a little more poetic; to help you die to the mundane and to the ordinary so that the extraordinary explodes in your life.” – Bhagwan Shree Rajneesh
Although it’s not explicitly about travel, I think it sums up nicely many of my motivations for travel. Traveling to me isn’t just a fun and nice way to pass the time; it’s not just about “taking vacations” or “getting away from it all.” Traveling enhances my life, makes me become a more appreciative, worldly, and educated person. It allows me to experience firsthand the great wealth of people, languages, cultures, colors, sizes, shapes, foods, clothing, styles, traditions, habits, religions, neighborhoods, cities, villages, vehicles, shorelines, alleyways, mountainsides, valleys, animals, plantlife, sealife–everything, everything, that makes up the amazing variety of places and human societies on this earth. Traveling is an itch I have to scratch every now and then to remind myself how fully in love with life I should be. To live a life unopened by travel, I think, is a misfortune.
“Die to the mundane” at least every once in a while, and let the “extraordinary explode in your life.” Traveling, I have found, is one of the best ways to do this. Of course the mundane, the commonplace, the 9 to 5, the daily routines, commutes, and social scenes–the backdrops to our passing days–are a necessary part of life. But I think it’s equally as necessary to make sure that the commonplace doesn’t become all of who we are and all of what we do. In a place like New York City, where work bleeds into the morning hours of 1, 2, even 3 a.m., and into weekend afternoons, I find it’s harder for people here to do things out of their routines. In Rio, I would regularly go to waterfalls, go on hikes, drive to beaches outside of the city, watch a samba school rehearsal, listen to live samba on a Monday night, or stop by an art exhibit at a cultural center as I was passing by. I thirst for these things that break up my routine, that make my day a little less mundane than it could have been. Obviously, here in this most concrete of concrete jungles, the geography’s different so I can’t necessarily do the same types of things. But there’s still plenty of opportunity to explore, wander, discover, and do. And if budget and time are a restriction, wandering in your local spaces is just as good a way to do it.
Admittedly, travel is often the pastime of the fortunate. It costs money, and takes time (often precious vacation days that are somewhat scarce in the U.S.), which is something not all of us have the luxury of having. So seize opportunities to explore your own city or state. If you’ve got free time, use it. Find museums and appreciate art. Go to a park and breathe in the fresh air. Go to a craft fair and support a local artisan. Look up events in your city or restaurants you’ve always want to go to, or always heard were great, and go to them. Check them off the list. Spend time outdoors. Spend time taking pictures. Spend time treating your taste buds to delicious food. These are, after all, the same things you do while you travel, even if in a strange and foreign land. Make it a habit to do these things at home as well. And I guarantee you will be happier, feel better, and probably, be seduced into a greater love of life.