Tag: leaving home

Life as a journey

Sometimes I have to take a deep breath and remind myself that not everything can be figured out in one day.

I “suffer” from wanderlust, the insatiable craving for new experiences, places and people. I relish in the unfamiliar, the awkward, unknown, the ugly. I yearn for experiences that scare me so I can prove that I can overcome one of life’s most debilitating emotions: fear. My heart is open, my mind is open, and I’m ready.

I sometimes ignore my travel blog because I don’t know what to say. My “About Me” section changes every few months because at the bat of an eyelash, I’ve found home somewhere new and exotic. A few months, or even weeks later, it changes.

How can I explain myself? Where is home? What does home mean?

What home looked like two months ago
What home looked like two months ago in Maui, Hawaii

Home is inside my heart. I’ve realized that no matter where I go and where I end up, that my life is my home. My journey is my destination. How could I be afraid to write about that? It’s the most honest and real thing, the most driving and ever-present force in my life.

It’s tough to explain the ethereal experiences you have while traveling. I think similar experiences can be achieved through doing similar activities that you love, like cooking, writing a book, opening a small business or following your dreams in any sense. Suddenly life opens doors to you that before never existed. You see and witness the beauty of following your heart’s path. These experiences are beautiful, but often overwhelming and tough: they challenge you to question everything you’ve ever been raised to think or do.

View of home now...Chicago
View of home now…Chicago

I grew up going on family vacations but was never told or raised to live a life on the road, doing the strange and wonderful things I’ve done. In jumping into the abyss, my eyes bugged out of my head in disbelief at the beauty of the unknown. The first time I feasted my eyes on the rainforest in Hawaii, it was if I died and went to Heaven. I floated around for months on a cloud of happiness and uncertainty.

How could this place be real? I wondered. All I ever knew was the cold, Midwestern winter. Suddenly I’m picking fruit barefoot and surfing in March.

Travel makes you question everything.

It made me prioritize my life. That sounds simple and like a “duh” moment, but it’s surprising how many people don’t really live their own lives, but rather, one prescribed to them. I discovered what’s most important to me: It’s being true to my tastes. I enjoy good food, good drink and travel. These are my life’s expenses and the things that bring me the most joy overall. Even though travel sometimes puts me in difficult situations, the difficulty never outweighs the fact that travel helps me to discover things that I like. Moreover, difficult experiences are often the truest test of your vulnerability and your strength and give you a firm sense of what you do NOT like and won’t put up with.

Not all days are Mai Tais and rainbows
Not all days are Mai Tais and rainbows

Part of opening your heart and exploring the world, discovering new ways of life is accepting and finding comfort in the unknown. By far, the unknown is the root of anxiety and fear.

“If you are depressed you are living in the past.
If you are anxious you are living in the future.
If you are at peace you are living in the present.”

This quote from Lao Tzu has never rang truer. In trying to “figure out my life,” I’ve noticed a more hands-off approach is best. Things tend to play out as they do anyway. Life’s journey continues forward whether I worry about it or not.

It’s time to stop being my own worst enemy, do myself a favor and enjoy the peace of the present. It hasn’t let me down in the past and I’m confident it won’t in the future.

The uncertainty of the travel flow

Traveling opened up about a million cans of awesome, and almost as many cans of worms.

This year alone has been my greatest success. I conquered continents. I traveled here, to there, to here and to there again.

A lot of people ask me, “What are you running away from?”

I like to answer, “It’s not a question of what I’m running away from, but what I’m running toward.

The line, though, my friends, becomes pretty blurred after months on end on the road.

I think I’m suffering from travel burnout.

Correction Sydney airport, home is where I lay my hat

Sounds like a pretty nice problem to have, huh?

Traveling is great and has afforded me some awesome opportunities. I burned my tongue silly on the hottest goddamn pepper in the world. I cuddled koalas in Australia, snorkeled the Great Barrier Reef (saw some sharks!), swam with dolphins, surfed wild waves, learned Hawaiian permaculture and enjoyed my fair share of California sunsets. I have juggled the most amazing friends and lovers all over the world.

I’ve seen things people only dream about. I woke up from a reality that I perceived to be my only way of life. Then I realized how much more there was out there to see. A dizzying amount of opportunities. How do you know which one is right?

Who is who?

Like I’ve decided earlier, I’m calling Hawaii my home. I’m in search of something more permanent. I loved meeting and creating contacts all over the world. I love having friends that I can stay with or call or share a memory with, but saying goodbye time and again has become so very difficult for me.

I think Anthony Bourdain said it best:

“Travel changes you. As you move through this life and this world you change things slightly, you leave marks behind, however small. And in return, life – and travel – leaves marks on you. Most of the time, those marks – on your body or on your heart – are beautiful. Often, though, they hurt.”

In Hawaii, I met some amazing, life-altering soul friends. We shared many philosophical conversations, resources, adventures, work life, the works. Leaving them was especially difficult. Are these people meant to come into our lives to make an impact forever? Certainly. How do I cope with feelings of greediness?  I want them all in my life always.

Part of my jungle family

I think it comes down to making decisions and following your heart. It was a difficult choice to leave home to travel in the first place. I remember after my going away party, I cried for hours wondering why forces were pulling me away from a comfy, lovely and perfectly wonderful support system: my family and friends. But cutting that cord offered me a million unique opportunities I would’ve never had otherwise.

Is that always the compromise? While traveling, I missed my family and friends and wished they could be with me. But I know that can’t be the case, because when I’m alone, I’m a free agent. I can re-invent myself somewhere totally different. I can go my own way without preconceived notions of who I was before. It sounds bizzare, but your reputation, even when it’s good, follows you and hinders you in some ways.

I’ve been able to let go and be completely me on the road, getting into shenanigans & cars with “strangers,” eating exotic foods in exotic locales, learning about things I might not have been exposed to before. That to me, was worth the pay off of leaving home.

Dragonfruit..tastes like a hot pink kiwi…who knew?

But now, the new experiences have become a bit daunting. Experiences end as quickly as the they began. New faces become old friends on Facebook in the matter of months, days even.

I’m ready to set up shop. I’m ready to set up a support network. I’m ready to hang up the vegabond hat for a while in search of the elusive dish-all over coffee or a beer best friend. I want a dog. Hell, I even want a partner. I want people I can look at at the end of the day, smile with and feel a piece of my heart and soul growing, rather than having to have it all torn away week to week, day to day.

C’mon, let’s share the view

After all, happiness is only real when shared.

How do you cope with the  travel blues?