Putting Travel, and Life, into Perspective

“Each moment is a place / you’ve never been.” -Mark Strand

We’re only a few days away from Thanksgiving so I’ve been trying to take some time for a little introspection.

I always begin feeling guilty when I actually stop and name things I’m grateful for or when I think about how much time I waste wishing I were doing something else or when I see my worst inner thoughts translate into poor behavior.

Lately I would say I’ve been falling short on all accounts.

Some people really envy other people’s things. They wish they had someone else’s car, iPad, house, lifestyle, etc. That’s not me. I love the things I have and don’t mind working for the things I want.

But it’s because I’m not much of a things person. I am an experiences person. Other people traveling around the world, nation, state, region; attending shows and concerts; tasting new and exotic cuisine– I hear those stories and the green fog starts rolling in.

I get antsy and anxious and literally start itching. It’s a physical response–a restlessness that I swear begins at the core of my very being. A concern that I’m missing out on some experience that can only happen once in a lifetime and that life is so short I’m possibly missing an opportunity every time I take a breath without an accompanying life-altering activity.

It’s exhausting and draining and completely irrational and probably one of my worst character flaws–this insane state of worry in the back of my mind at all times. It makes me nervous and unhappy and anxious and at some level, if we’re being honest, a bit self-absorbed. None of these things pretty or endearing so I try to distract myself from these feelings by staying busy and attentive to the “next big thing” happening in life. Having something to look forward to and something to plan staves off the restlessness, makes me feel like I am contributing to the next amazing adventure, and helps boost my happiness level.

I suppose my methods for distracting myself wouldn’t be completely without reason if I didn’t go around thinking everyone else was on board and excited about that next big thing as much as I am.

This is simply not true, and when that becomes apparent to me–often in the midst of whatever it is I’m planning–it’s painful.

It reminds me this is my little green monster to deal with. It points directly at the heart of the problem, which is my jealousy and envy of others who have the means to explore all the facets of life I think I need to explore. It clarifies that I’m spending precious time worrying about what’s to come and wishing I were off having other people’s experiences rather than enjoying my own.

I hate that moment because I don’t want anyone to know about it so I end up feeling very alone.

I think the right approach IS to list out the things you have had the opportunity to do, reminding yourself how lucky you’ve been and being grateful for those opportunities. No one wants to read a list of all the places I’ve been, all of the experiences I’ve had, or all the life-changing moments that have changed my life, and quite frankly there is no way I could even begin to list them all.

The challenge is not in coming up with those moments, it’s being content with them. It’s gaining an appreciation for what is happening at this very second.

Am I going to stop planning ahead? Am I going to halt the constant pinning on my Pinterest board of things I want to do? Am I going to desist worrying over every detail of my wedding because I want it to go down in history as one of the most memorable days in my life? Am I going to quit blogging about the next trip I have in mind?

Obviously not.

But I am going to try to take to heart this quote I recently came across because it speaks to the peaks and valleys of the emotions I feel I go through on a daily basis, and perhaps why I keep getting overwhelmed with those emotions.

I think it puts life, and travel, into perspective.

“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.”
– Lao Tzu

Wishing everyone a peaceful and happy Thanksgiving.

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