Wanderlust and wonderlust

In between trips, travellers have to contend with wanderlust. Some of us join clubs or write blogs, but I waffle between pining and distraction. I write long lists of countries I want to go to, deride my home town for its brownness and cold, and then I try to forget it all by immersing myself in work. I climb to the top of a ladder, take a deep breath and dive in, then I work until I run out of air. This doesn’t leave much space for daily work-life balance but I try to make up for it by longer spells of travel every couple of years. Life has taught me that any longer and I will go crazy.

My job takes me to places across Canada, mostly for conferences and presentations. I used to think this was magical, a get away without being out of pocket. This delusion didn’t last long. I won’t sound ungrateful, I really do appreciate these opportunities, I love the change of scene and the opportunities for learning that they bring, but this is not travelling. It is work first and planes, airports and hotels second, newness and adventure a distant third. It’s true that being out of one’s comfort zone forces learning, and these can happen while work-travelling as well as fun-travelling, but there is an important and internal distinction. Fun-travelling simply allows for a greater freedom of self.

I do try to make these work trips function as a way to stave off the wanderlust. It helps when I’m challenged and learning, as I have been on two recent trips. Despite this, there is nothing that compares with the uncertainty of being lost, the exhaustion of late-night airports and the absurdity of trying to muddle through a foreign language. I love every bit of it, good and bad.

So until my next trip, I will keep dreaming and listing. Thanks to this new blog, I will do these things out loud. If nothing else, it will hold me a little more accountable to my life and dreams.

 

Inspiration

While I’ve been writing for some time, I’ve never been compelled to share it before now. Thanks to @bootsnall for the motivation. (Bootsnall is a travel site which motivates people to follow their wanderlust. I’ve been secretly reading their emails for many years, dreaming of the next trip I’ll take.) Having recently discovered twitter (admittedly, I’m a bit of a late bloomer), I was grateful for their e-motivation, a daily reminder to creatively respond to their prompts about travel.

The first prompt was to write about how travel has changed my view of the world…

Not a day goes by that I am not grateful for having travelled. Although my trips have been few and far between, there is something completely addictive about it. Those of you who travel know what I’m talking about. I can conjure these feelings at will – the high pitched whirl in the pit of one’s stomach as a plane disembarks, the blurry headed wonderment when waking up the first morning in a new place, the wide-eyedness of knowing you have never before stepped on the next piece of pavement or turned around the next corner. I can conjure it at will, but the sensation only lasts a short time before my feet get itchy and my brain gets antsy. When’s the next trip? I start to ask myself. When and where can I get my fix?

The truth of it is, those feelings can be summed up in one word – openmindedness. This is, of course, not restricted to travel, but it comes so much easier to me when my surroundings are new and less comfortable. In fact, it’s forced on me. There is no choice but to open my mind and allow each day and experience to present itself, with no judgement or presuppositions.

Travel also makes human connection so obvious. Smiles are inherently universal, people are kind everywhere you go and all communities want the best for their children. I could drone on and on about our oneness with the world and each other, but that is a blog for another day.

Did travelling change my view of the world? Did it make me more openminded? Did it prove connectedness to me? I don’t think so. I think these were viewpoints I held before travelling, in fact it’s what made me want to see the world in the first place. Travel just makes openmindedness, and connection, more apparent.

More than changing how I see the world, travelling has changed how I see myself – it’s forced me to be adaptive and creative and quicker-thinking. It forces me to quash routine and resist introversion, to be independent but to live interdependence.

Much like this writing exercise in itself, travel makes me accountable to myself, my true self. It’s both grounding and liberating, feet firmly on the ground but wings in the air.