I love traveling. The clarity that embraces the mind when we are on a journey is a wonderful thing. Traveling does two things: it places you squarely in the moment; and it rivets you to appreciation. There is a joyful wonder that settles into a life of travel. We become hyper aware of our surroundings, constantly on the look out for something unusual, a story. We translate more than the menus; we translate our experience into stories. We humans love to connect through shared experience and a juicy story is the best souvenir.
The shift in consciousness that happens on the road is partly due to the nature of travel, but also due to a mental shift. I suppose it is possible to grump your way through the most beautiful places in the world. I have met and traveled with some grumps, but they don’t have the stamina for the road that I do. The shift to appreciation is mental. It is easy to appreciate when you are staring at the Alps or marveling at kangaroos. Somehow it is difficult to generate the same level of appreciation at home, staring at the commute home or the pigeons. But I am always struck with the concept that the most amazing places in the world are normal, boring even, to the locals. Presumably, if we lived there long enough, we would find it normal too.
The truth is that there is so much to appreciate, right here, in this moment. Look around you right now. This is what wealth looks like. If you can read this, it means, well, that you can read, but also that you have electricity, and a computer, and Internet access, and good taste. Appreciation abounds when we look for it.
Run an experiment. For a whole day, waking to sleeping, pretend that you are traveling, right in your hometown, even if you have to work, even if you are “too busy”, even if you have to do laundry. Do what you would do if you were on a trip, keep a journal or blog your adventure, take pictures, call someone and let them know how much you wish they were there, seek out the sights, go to a museum or art gallery, talk to the locals, ask for directions. Have fun with this. Let me know how it goes.