Sometimes you have to go away to come home.
That leaving, that immersion in a culture and a climate different than your own, facilitates perspective.
In our daily lives, we get tunnel vision. We don’t see the beauty all around us, the wonder, the miracle in the work we do. We get stuck in routine. We eat bad food. We become depressed. We focus more on cleaning up the kitchen and taking the garbage out and finishing the laundry and getting the kids to bed.
Nowhere in the regular routine, so it seems, is room for two yoga classes in a row or a mile walk down an unfamiliar road to discover a new place to write and sip tea.
Except, all of that is possible within our own regular lives, if we want it there.
That sense of wonder, of discovery, of exhilaration at the sun shining so brightly and the smell of the air kissing our skin, that exists everywhere we go. Were I to live in San Diego, and travel to Detroit on business, I might find that sense of wonder in the cold air, the industrial city.
It’s all in how we look at it.
Here, I have been working, and working hard. The neighborhood walks have been investigative so that I can direct my client in growing her new studio population. I needed to understand the world around me in order to get inside it.
It was easy to look at San Diego with new ideas. I don’t live here, though I’ve visited five times in the past two years. And when I come in cold December, it’s easy to fall in love with the sun and warm air.
That said, there is wonder and discovery everywhere if we are primed for it.
Marcel Proust said: “The voyage of discovery is not in seeking new landscapes but in having new eyes.”
And even then, if we are always looking outside ourselves, what good do we do?
Thomas Merton said: “What can we gain by sailing to the moon if we are not able to cross the abyss that separates us from ourselves? This is the most important of all voyages of discovery, and without it, all the rest are not only useless, but disastrous.”
Strong words from a spiritual scholar.
We have one chance at this life. We’d better make it a good one. Why do we walk this planet? Why are we born into the families we have? What difference can we make in our communities, in our relationships, in our paths?
Those are the questions that we need to answer, whether we stay at home consistently or like I have this past year, travel the globe.
I admit, it has been an incredible year. I’ve been to Sedona, India, Israel, Maine, the Upper Peninsula of Michigan, the Delaware beaches, Washington, D.C., San Diego. I’m sure I’ve traveled to other places too.
I mastered swimming in a supportive group early in the summer mornings, feeling more alive than ever. Each time I have taken a journey for myself, I’ve grown. I’ve gotten back in touch with my Self, reconnected with my soul.
That is the key: self-care, time alone, a journey to the center of the Self.
I’ll admit something that you may not believe: I almost didn’t go to India. Something in me reared up and said, don’t do it, it’s too scary.
I worried about being away from the kids too long, and from my business. I worried about what India would be like, what I would eat, would I get sick, would I turn away in disgust from the poverty and filth.
Well, I overcame my fears and went and I am forever glad that I did. As I boarded the plane in Dehradun, the first leg of my long journey home, I cried. Tears pricked the corners of my eyes and spilled onto my cheeks as I stared out at the landscape, the Himalayan foothills in the distance, the men lined up at the airport fence to watch the planes climb into the sky.
I didn’t want to leave.
A whole new world of spirituality and a different kind of rich living (inner living!) opened up to me and though I wanted to see my children after two weeks on the other side of the globe, I really didn’t want to go.
I’ve never felt that way before. Usually, five days into a trip, I am ready to go home.
Yes, sometimes we have to get away from our routines in order to truly find ourselves. But then the biggest challenge is that we have to find ourselves again and again inside our ordinary lives.
We have to wake each morning, even in the pitch-dark, and see brilliance and possibility and hope and inspiration. We have to walk familiar streets, drive carpool, listen to the children bicker, and respond with love, love, love.
We have to be our very best and strive to make the world a better place from our homes, from our workplaces, from the children’s schools, from the family of origin where we have always felt out of place.
You have to go away to come home. And then once home, the lesson is in the staying there, the getting comfortable, finding inspiration in the familiar.