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Getting a rest from routine.
My father shook my chubby arm gently. “Time to go!”, he whispered trying not to wake my younger sister next to me. “Ah”, I remembered our plan. I was big enough now, eleven, we were going to walk the dunes before sunrise, before anyone else got up. I slipped out of my bunk in our little vacation cottage near the sea, pulled on my clothes and joined my father and brother for a morning of “waking up the dew” as it was called.
We skipped breakfast and carried a sandwich for later. I will never forget the grown-up feeling of being an adventurer, sitting there on top of the dune watching the dawn slowly color the sea, eating that liverwurst sandwich, dew forming little bubbles on the beach grass, my feet boring into the wet sand to find some warmth from yesterday’s sunshine.
“I won’t have to wash my face and arms when we get back today, won’t I?” I asked.
“No you won’t, Nature has done the washing for you”, my father answered.
This is how I learned that breaking the routine is a journey into feeling new, different.
The excitement of that day has stayed with me and fueled many of my escapades, from rowing at dawn, swimming in the ocean at midnight, eating raw foods for six months, not eating for weeks, all to have that experience of newness, which happens when I break the routine of everyday living.
Travel is just that, a rest from routine. A tiring rest maybe if you hike a trail, fly long distance, paddle the ocean, but a rest nonetheless. The rest from what you do routinely is a renewal for the spirit, an opening to new possibilities, new perspectives.
It is spring, let nature wake you up to a change of routine. Travel for five minutes. Step outside as it gets light. Have you heard? The birds are singing again.
Do you get those Viking River Cruise catalogs? The Patagonia experience emails? The Nambia Safari on line catalogue? The discounted European getaway? I get them, and I look at them, possibilities on a drip line into the adventure part of my brain. I ask myself, what is it that makes me want to go?
I live in vacation land. I live in a place where an uncanny combination of natural wildness in the surroundings, cultural events and good restaurants in town, draws people to come and vacation. This is a place where people travel to, to take a break from their life.
Modern travel evokes images of standing in line, long drives, flight delays, packing, making reservations, rushing to get everything done so you can be gone awhile. Doesn’t sound like taking a break, does it? Once on your way, you hope to have a long breath out, a change of pace, somewhere between airport arrivals, hotel accommodations, or family dynamics. If you are lucky, you might empty out a bit beyond emptying your money purse.
Why travel at all?
When we travel, we travel toward something, even if we think we are just getting away. Wilder places, mind expanding experiences that the daily routine deprives us from. A new look at life, friend and family contact not easily had. Often these experiences come with a certain amount of hardship, a long car ride across a state, a hike over a long mountain range, a silent meditation retreat, a family reunion inundated with logistics. Even a leisurely tropical beach get-away will have the no-see-um’s that require self control from scratching yourself bloody.
And yet despite the hardship, we humans, we travel. It is the effort to find something, that lifts us out of the amnesia of daily living, and wakes us up to a bigger experience of life, or gives us back the appreciation for what we have at home.
Travel then, is the gift of transformation, renewal. A renewal you won’t find in a catalogue.
This blog is part of a series on transformation and travel
As a writer, travel is my muse. The change in environment helps me observe, see things I would otherwise walk right by.
There was a homeless man standing by a poetry post, holding a red sheet of paper with a poem in his fingerless gloved hand. He wore a grey, brown, and green array of clothing, blending with dirt, a dark beard, a rugged face, a homeless camouflage for bushes and trees, if I ever saw one. His cart held empty soda cans, a pack with belongings.
Monday morning, off to work for him? Collecting cans? I greeted him with my morning, the sun is out, yes it is cold still, isn’t the world looking pretty, smile and asked: “How is the poem?”
He looked at me from under his thick brown eyebrows, eyes deep, struggling to keep from being bloodshot, and said: “Not such a good one, this time”. I read a few lines of the poem through the plastic cover of the poetry box and agreed, wordy, for a poem that gets read while standing on the street.
I wished him a good day and walked on, dog on leash. A dog with a warm home, food in his bowl, loving scratches on the head.
Can a poem, for a moment, lift someone out of their cold, hungry world?
It better be a good one.