I like to keep my social media posts on the positive side of things, at least as much as I can. That’s in large part because no one wants to see things on social media that aren’t happy, with lots of puppies and unicorns thrown in for good measure. I also tend to be fairly sarcastic and experience has taught me that sarcasm does NOT translate digitally, at least not yet. (Why can’t we get a sarcasm in use font or something?) So it may come as a surprise to learn that the last 12 months, or longer really, have been difficult ones for me, personal issues gradually sucking almost everything out of me. Add in a lot of other responsibilities, and it’s been tough. When life gets in the way of living, everything suffers and all of us will go through times like these. One aspect that I especially disliked though was that my work began to suffer. I just wasn’t motivated to write and when that happens, the results are fairly crappy to be honest. I didn’t even know I was in a rut though until a recent trip when I suddenly broke out of it, making me realize that there even was a problem in the first place. So today I want to share some thoughts on what inspires us in life and how for many of us, the travel experience itself is usually the catalyst for change.
Winston Churchill famously popularized the term “black dog” to describe the depression which haunted him for most of his life. Saying that it followed him wherever he went, always hanging near his feet. That was a courageous statement for him to make and even today for a public figure to admit to bouts of depression usually makes headlines. Mental health issues are still not truly recognized as a medical disorder, but rather some failing on behalf of the sufferer. We seem to fault the patient and not the disease, which in turn makes everything worse. I’ve never been diagnosed with clinical depression, but I have always gone through some fairly intense episodes of extreme melancholia, usually precipitated by something stupid I’d done. Anyway, that’s what I had been going through in the last few months, afraid to say anything at the risk of losing future work. I feel more comfortable talking about it now though because, for the moment at least, this episode has passed by and again I can see the positive side of things and not always the negative. But what caused this? The one thing that makes me most happy in this life, travel.
There are too many travel bloggers, I think that can be stated as fact and not opinion. The question though is why are there so many of us now? There are dozens of reasons, but what I hope is at the base for most of them is an understanding of the power of travel. They must have gotten a taste of its potential, a brief look at the sacred, away from bars and tourist sites. It must have affected them, even if briefly, at such a deep and emotional level that they would do anything to recapture it, even if only for a few days. Hence, there are a lot of bloggers. That’s what travel has always done for me and I can very clearly point to important life changing moments that were in part precipitated by a travel experience. Well, it happened again and in what is probably a very unlikely place, Monaco.
That’s right, one of the most glamorous places on the planet, where millionaires are the poorest residents and star-studded events happen weekly. That’s the place that touched me and spun be away from the dreaded Black Dog to something much more positive. It came at the end of a long, all-day tour of Southern France, the capstone being a tour of the Principality of Monaco. I stood at a popular viewpoint, looking out across Monte Carlo’s harbor and something hit me. (Metaphorically, not literally) Not for the first time, I was struck by the totality of my life. How very fortunate I am to enjoy experiences like that one and to see so many of the places I’d always dreamt of visiting. Tears started to well up and the Italian tourists next to me gave weird looks. I didn’t care, the tears were a mixture of happiness and relief, a denouement of a play that had acted itself out. It was a peaceful feeling and I started smiling again as I wiped away the tears and sought out the nearest gelato stand.
It seems a little trite to say that travel is life changing. Seems like it should be on a postcard or an Internet meme or something. But it’s also true. It’s what draws so many of us to the experience again and again. Sure, I love to travel to see the world, but I also travel to improve myself, to become a better person. Inspiration can happen anywhere at anytime, but there’s something about travel that I think promotes it. There’s a lot to be said about standing alone on the edge of the world, or in the middle of a busy and exotic city that pushes us to consider our own lives and our paths. It forces a type of introspection that is simply impossible to achieve at home. That’s because travel is a disruptor. When we travel, we forcibly extricate ourselves from our daily lives, from our routine and we enter into a style of living that is completely and totally foreign for days or even weeks. It can be something as simple as a trip to Florida or a trip around the world, it doesn’t matter. All that matters is that you’ve left daily life at home along with the long-suffering plants, and you’ve entered into something entirely new. This frees us up to think about things we don’t normally consider when at the grocery store or picking up the kids from school. We get to be a little selfish, we get to be introspective and we are given the opportunity to act on those revelations. That’s one of the greatest luxuries afforded to us by travel, that power to grow and change. You won’t see it mentioned on a postcard, in a guidebook or on a tourism brochure, but it is at the heart of the travel experience, and always has been. That’s also why I don’t just enjoy traveling, but I am indebted to it in every way for making me the person I am today.Add to Flipboard Magazine.