The Power of Travel

Pacific Ocean, from Ocean Beach pier
Pacific Ocean, from Ocean Beach pier

I’ve circled the globe this year. Two weeks in India, a week in Israel, a week at the beach, a week in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula. I’ve been back to San Diego (five times in three years), and I’ve jaunted to Sedona, Maine, Florida for long weekends.

There’s nothing like getting away to make you appreciate your life. And there’s nothing like travel to show you the beauty of the open world, the discoveries that await you.

In 2015, I plan to stay pretty close to home. It will be a change, for sure, and I am certain that come midway through the year, I will yearn to hit the open road. (Thankfully, family trips will take me away from home by car, and those getaways will fuel my hunger.)

The decision to travel less in the new year is motivated solely by the expense and detail of my son’s bar mitzvah in May and my daughter’s bat mitzvah in October. It’s a practical decision, not one that I make because I am sick of traveling.

Truth be told, one trip leads to another and creates a hunger to create new adventures, go as far-flung as I possibly could. And being the kind of mom I am, I want to take my children with me.

Rent an apartment in a tiny European town for a month. Flit to South America and stare up at the soaring Andes. I’d love to take my children to Bali with me and to India, just so they can see how other people live, but also to drink in the tropical air and the spirituality emanating from the streets.

Yesterday, I had breakfast with a friend, and we talked about how much we spend – she on others, a generous soul who finds herself paying the bill when friends go out for dinner; me on travel and gifts.

Travel, my friend said, is not a wasted expenditure. It’s the gift of knowledge, of experience, of opening your eyes. It’s like the way my father would give us carte blanche in bookstores when I was a kid: buy whatever you want, books are knowledge.

So is travel. You see the red color of the rock in Sedona and the unique outcroppings of the land, and suddenly you realize that not everything looks as it does in Michigan. That the landscape and the culture and the very air you breathe change from place to place, but that people at the core are utterly the same.

I often write about the similarities between all people, for I believe that is our undercurrent, the river running through all of us.

It is so true. And yet, the places we live bring their own unique circumstances so beautifully and those surroundings change us.

These streets are whisper-quiet and peaceful, welcoming, beckoning.
These streets are whisper-quiet and peaceful, welcoming, beckoning.

When you can walk in sunshine every day of the year to a coffee shop, you do it, and it makes you happy. When the sky above you turns gray 300 days of the year, so do you.

Our environments change us, they seep inside, they affect who we become. I long to live in a place where I can walk into the town square and buy fresh food on a daily basis for my simple, flavorful meals.

Surprisingly, I do love where I live. For all the bad rap Michigan gets, especially Detroit, I like the salt-of-the-earth people who live here, and I truly like the seasons.

I like the stories of our shared past, the communities that have sprung up and claimed this place as our own.

I like the fact that no matter where you go in this world, people are, at the core, very much the same. They care about the people they love, they work hard to earn enough money for their families, they snuggle in their beds with their children at night, holding them close until they are old enough to fly on their own.

The sun descended in the sky as we made our way back to the starting point. Full of peace, full of love, full of insight, for having the courage to be silent, in nature.
The sun descended in the sky as we made our way back to the starting point. Full of peace, full of love, full of insight, for having the courage to be silent, in nature.

We’ve heard it said that a life is a journey, and I’d like to think it’s true. If that’s the case, then indeed we must achieve that same sense of wonder and adventure that we have automatically when we touch down in a new city and take to unfamiliar roads just to discover what we’ll find there.

One of my resolutions for the new year ahead will be to infuse each day with a sense of wonder and discovery, a sense of enthusiasm for whatever I may find. I hope you can too. For there is no perfect place. Perfection resides within, in the knowing that there is no perfection, that each moment is a precious prism of jewel to be cherished and awed before it fades away.

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