Tuesday, September 9, 2008
I was tossing in bed, trying to find sleep before my trip. Thoughts racing, did I forget anything? Where was my passport? Did I have enough cash? As soon as the boarding door closes, or you step through the immigration line, the unknown replaces the comfortable world of home, and typically that can be an unnerving process. Humans are creatures of habit, and we designed our society to enforce that. We strive to make a home, get a job, have a life, and EARN a living. We like the routine, we are addicted to it, and somehow, it allows us to forget our SELVES. Sometimes we live in the same town for our entire lifetime, sometimes even the same house with the same job. Sometimes we move around, resettle, but we tend to try to define ourselves through our external life.
Enter travel. When you pack a bag, jump on a plane, and “leave” your life, you are traveling. It is the great unknown, whether you are in Calcutta or Des Moines. You may be sitting in a hotel room, watching CNN, or trying to buy samosas, but your stuff and your life are conspicuously absent. When you have obtained food and shelter, your basic needs, you find yourself laying there with yourself – just yourself. All your external baggage has disappeared to some degree, depending on how you pack. You can’t get lost right away in the basement, or in the yard, or in the kitchen, or at work. For a little while you are forced to be with yourself, and for a lot of us that is a scary unknown.
Crossing physical borders provides us with a window into ourselves, maybe brief, maybe longer, but infinitely valuable. Our work on earth is not about creating a life, or earning a living, we already have that taken care of simply by being here. More our work is to uncover our true self, and to live here accordingly. Our houses do not make us humble, our work does not make us compassionate, our cars do not make us lovers, our lives do not define us - we define our lives.
Travel forces us across mental borders, freeing us from the daily grind. If you are nervous before a trip, it is a good sign that you are in need of a trip. A vacation from your life, your routine, and a foray into the lesser explored region of self. Those dark places, where the real work lies waiting for us when we are ready. When we explore here, we change our whole being, and begin to address our karma. This is the work we are here for. This is how we remember compassion, truth, love, and honor. Do we want to live for this? Or for something else?
When I look out over the mountains, and take a deep breath of fresh air, and actually feel the earth under my feet, and feel the air enter my lungs, I am more aware of my life than when I am “busy”. Every so often we need this vacation, to get a new perspective on how we are doing and being. Travel allows us this chance to lift the veil of ego and remove the distraction of stuff so that we can catch a glimpse of who we really are.