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  • Writer's pictureJo Langhorne

The down side to travel.

Can you imagine that there is one?  That experience most of us dream about, how can there possibly be a down side to travelling?  Overlooking the possibility of illness, lost luggage and perhaps being pick-pocketed, it’s strange to imagine that travel could have a down side.

Yet in the few weeks since I’ve been home from India I am experiencing what I believe is the biggest challenge with travel, whilst at the same time it’s the reason I keep going.

It changes you!

You leave one person and you come back another.  It can’t be helped. If you are open to the new experiences that surround you when you travel, and your eyes are opened, it’s impossible to return the same as when you left and that requires some adjusting.

Wayne Dyer often spoke about how our cells change every day in the body.  He used to say that the body that he is walking around with today is not the same body that he walked around with a year ago, a month ago, or even a week ago.  Therefore, if our physical self is always changing how does our emotional, heart and feeling sense change through the experience of travel?

Dido has a song called “Sand in my shoes” and the opening verse starts with the 3 lines,

And things still look the same”whole world should've changed but I'm home now.

And things still look the same”

And what is wrong, with that.  Nothing really. I love my life, my family, my work, my friends and yet I feel like that 2 weeks away has changed me and I’m not sure how to go back, or even forward at this point.  I’m standing on a precipice that requires me to take a step and do something different and apprehension and a little bit of fear are keeping me still.  The shift feels huge for me, yet to those around me I’m the same.  In many ways, I am, but deep inside I know that I am different and navigating this new place is not so comfortable at times.  Yet this is where the learning is, this is how travel changes you and as I travel more and more the shift comes faster and takes less time to show up.  It’s almost as if I’m in fast forward each time I come back and I’m not sure how to keep moving in pace with those around me.  Like as I mentioned this is what I love about travel, the learning is my addiction.

So how do I feel different? 

Well firstly I feel a greater sense of needing to live my purpose.  I’ve spent years in the question of what that is.  What is my reason for being here and how can I use my skills and passions for the greatest good.  Oprah used to speak of her early prayer to God. She would say “Lord use me, use my life, there is a vision for my life greater than my imagination can hold, Lord use me.”  In a sense, I feel a similar way but now I have a greater understanding of what that may be.  Standing in a meeting room with a group of wonderful, open, inspiring women, in India, in a country that changes you, I delivered a series of workshops and meditations designed to encourage these women to take time to reflect on their own life and how they live it. As they trusted me and went with the process, India did the rest.  A country that touches you, moves you, enlightens you, teaches you and shows you what all of life is, these women experienced their own transformations in only 10 days.  And it will continue, and then maybe it won’t, but I am confident that they will consider themselves in the equation of life more consciously.

All because of travel and opening themselves up to something new.

I personally have never felt more alive and felt the universal flow of energy moving through me as I facilitated this process.  One of those Ah Ha moments as Oprah used to say.

The other shift I can clearly see is the letting go of materialism.  I love Rumi’s words,

“Sell your cleverness and buy bewilderment.”

Although he may not have been talking about materialism, there is a status or holding when it comes to cleverness as if it is something you see yourself having over another.  When you see the smiles of those with nothing, you realise you need very little to be happy in this life.  Just as when you see those who have so much, yet are still miserable, again you are reminded that it doesn’t provide happiness and contentment.  The purchase of bewilderment excites me.  To spend a life buying experience rather than couches, clothes and possessions is a shift I felt the moment I visited Africa in 1999 and lives with me today, even more since returning from India. What do we really need?  Is spending $200K on a house renovation going to fill my soul?  Is it going to change my life that I have 2 living areas instead of 1, am I going to feel content and light at night because I have new furniture and a brand-new bathroom?  Or do we choose a home that is simple and comfortable and gives us a life free of attachment and free to explore new experiences and the world.

Travelling also gives me the reminder that I don’t have to live my life a certain way.  As per those rules and structures that society places on us and we choose to take on.  I say choice because it is a choice, yet sometimes it feels as if we move along making decisions because we feel that is what you do.  Almost as if life is happening to us unconsciously.  Travelling forces you to live more consciously as you are out of your routine and out of habit.  You don’t walk down the same streets, eat the same food and make the same choices.  You must stop and think, have your wits about you and your conscious mind is on overload.  The downside to this is that when you return home you find yourself slipping back into the unconscious way of living. The routines and structures of daily life and then you wonder why there is a crash of emotions.  It is going to take all the courage and strength that I have, and an awful lot of meditation to pull me back into the conscious mind with the aim to spend more of my day living from this place.

There are many questions I am asking myself right now and I’m just grateful that I am the type of person who lives from this space. Otherwise the emotional wave I am riding would crash big time without the ability to see what is happening. 

So, as I find myself dreaming a little about the last few weeks and gazing out the window thinking about the next adventure I am planning, I will seek the joy in the present, in my daily life, in my family, because it is here that the transition can truly take place and the lessons learned through travel can be fully expressed.

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