Packing your suitcase is like being on an episode of TLC’s “what not to wear” except that you don’t get to buy new clothes; you have to accept your choices of what to bring and be comfortable with what you’ve left.
Traveling for longer periods of time will make you realize what a sick attachment we have to stuff. But it will also lead you to mindfulness and what you can let go of.
For Christmas my mother gave me one of those silver Ozark cups (you know, the ones that keep your drinks cold). The cup was branded with my initials in my favorite color; sea-foam green . I felt a pang of guilt knowing that I would not be able to take this cup with me to Costa Rica. I wanted to take the cup with me so badly, it had my initials on it. It belonged to me, it was picked out especially for me.
It was my mother that I wanted to take with me, and suddenly the cup represented my mother.
It was a symbol of love from my mother. In truth, It was my mother that I wanted to take with me, and suddenly the cup represented my mother.
What a stupid thing to say. A cup is not that exciting. I had to realize that the cup was just a cup, and to take it with me would give me comfort, but it’s not my mom. What I needed to focus on, was how to have the true relationship with my mother while traveling, and not the symbol that I’d allowed the cup to take on.
Psychologically speaking, this is how people get too much stuff. They look at it and feel that it’s a part of the person that gave it to them. However, it’s just an item.
When you get off of that plane and land in your new destination you have to leave things behind.
You have to say goodbye to say hello to something new. You will miss someone that you consider part of your family, and it will hurt. You will want to go back. You will look at yourself and say, “What am I doing here?” Sometimes you’ll need to feel sad.
At times like this I think of the quote from Elizabeth Gilbert in “Eat, Pray, Love;”
“But I miss him.” “So miss him. Send him some love and light every time you think about him, then drop it.” -Elizabeth Gilbert
Of course, we aren’t trying to forget about our family, but it’s true, you have to drop it. We have options to send our family love when we need to. Call them, e-mail them, send them a postcard, but do it, and then drop it. When you tell them you miss them and love them, you will find your relationship with them grow stronger than ever. Distance does make the heart grow fonder.
Before I traveled I rarely told my parents that I loved them. What a horrible thing to admit. It wasn’t because I didn’t, it’s just that my family isn’t very expressive with love and it was always just assumed. We know we love each other, so why say it?
Well…you know what they say about people who assume don’t you? It makes an ass of U and me. I don’t want to be an ass, so I tell my parents I love them and then they tell me they love me.
As desperately as I wanted to, I just couldn’t carry on my guitar. I’m not even a good guitarist, but it comforts me to have the option to play it.
One day I was feeling painfully homesick so I walked into a guitar shop in Costa Rica and asked if I could play one. They denied my request. I went to the park and cried.
What do you do when you can’t carry on your guitar?
Something that you feel like defines who you are is difficult to leave behind. I love music. I love to sing in my car. Here, I have no car and they might commit me to an asylum if I start singing on the bus.
Be open to new hobbies and friends. Here I’ve learned how to cook ceviche, speak Spanish, dance salsa, merengue, & bachata…sort of…well ok, only when I have a good dance partner…but the point is that you can’t sit around missing what you don’t have. It’s like what professor Henry Higgins says in “My Fair Lady” -If you can’t appreciate what you’ve got, you’d better get what you can appreciate.
If you can’t appreciate what you’ve got, you’d better get what you can appreciate. -Prof. Henry Higgins, My Fair Lady.
3. Stress and security
Many people travel or move to a new country to escape their stress. Congratulations, you’ve made it. You’ve lost your daily stress, but gained a new stress of moving. The stress of the unknown has arrived.
On the plane you begin to leave the stress of an old life behind, but gain a feeling of insecurity of the unknown when you step off of that plane. You now have to think, “where do I go from here? Where is my bus? How do I get to my destination so that I can start enjoying my trip?”
Unless you’re with a group, the only person you can rely on is yourself. I recommend this way. Embrace the stress for a while and solve the problem. Take a deep breath and look around. This stress is healthy. It’s not the stress of your boss telling you to meet your deadlines, but that bit of anxiety that you have because you tried something new and you don’t know how it will turn out.
We know how to deal with your screaming boss, but do we know how to navigate a new city? Do we know who we will meet on our journey? Do we know what foods we will like and won’t like?
Change your perception from stress to excitement.
You’ve decided to interrupt your routine for something new, now go find it.