Friday, March 27, 2009

When every day is a vacation

Early last week, Chile (of Chile Chews) wrote a thought provoking post about how we as individuals in the green/sustainability movement are preparing for the future. A discussion soon followed of not only the changes we've been making in our own lives, but also of the pessimism that can consume us in light of the reality of a finite planet (definitely worth checking out). One particular comment caught my attention. Fellow blogger Organic Needle explained that her family was increasing their travel because of the many opportunities for personal growth and experience that it offers, despite cutting back on just about everything else. 

A world traveller myself, I completely agree with the invaluable experience we can gain by traveling. Having travelled both in Europe on many occasions and once in China, I'm a different, more compassionate person as a result and I hope that every one of us have that opportunity to see the world through the eyes of another culture. 

What struck me, however, is the realization that I no longer feel the travel bug. In my 20's, I travelled to Europe at least twice a year, spending more than a month out of every 12 immersed in a different culture from my own. Now in my mid 30's, somehow the call is no longer there. 

I suppose it could be the decline in my health that has me low on energy and not quite up to the task, but if that were the case, the dreams of travel would still be there, though I might not be able to realize those dreams. 

I truly believe that I have reached a time in my life where every day is a vacation, though I hadn't realized it until I read the comments on Chile's post. In other words, I don't need to leave home, I don't need to escape to find peace and rest, I find it already in each and every day. 

Granted, it took a long time (and a chronic illness) to get to this point, but I can honestly say that my daily life is the best I could imagine for myself. Each morning, I wake up and steep fresh herbs for a cup of hot tea. I lazily ride my bike around town in an effort to take care of our household errands. I pick up around the house, keeping things tidy. I tinker in my garden preparing a future harvest, then pick a few goodies for the day's lunch. Afternoons are dedicated to working on my projects, whether it be the Brazos Locavores, the Friends of the Farmers' Market, or writing blog posts; soon followed by a relaxing walk, time for meditation, and diving into the pages of my latest mystery novel. As the sun goes down and Dave returns home from work, we snuggle on the couch, talk, and maybe watch a TV show on the laptop before falling into a cozy bed for a nice long, restful sleep. 

Perhaps my expectations are low. I don't crave paid employment, validation from a boss, a large house or fancy furniture. I don't want new clothes or jewelry; nor to change the color of my hair or hide the lines around my eyes. I already have more than I could ever want or need, save a few odds and ends for my little garden. 

I wonder. Does it get any better than this - to be content, to find happiness in what I already possess? To want for nothing. To need for nothing. Can life be any sweeter when every day is a new adventure, a sanctuary from a world that passes me by in the hectic rush towards the next destination? I wave as they pass, wish them luck, and smile knowing there's nowhere I'd rather be than where I already am.


Beany said...

I always wondered why I never made travel a priority despite wanting to travel more. And after last week's discussion on Chile's, Crunchy's and even arduous' blog, I realized that I value other things much, much more. I'd much rather use my savings to take time off of work to just enjoy being at home. Looking back on my 20s, I took many risks. Risks I couldn't have taken had I placed travel a priority and thus devoted money and time toward.

I think that at some point I realized the value of enjoying where I was at any given time. It is what I've been doing for a while now and I do treasure every moment.

Jennifer (of Veg*n Cooking) said...

I love this post, and honestly Heather, it has made me feel more strongly about my decisions.

Yes, I am in my mid-20s, but I have never really had the desire to do much traveling. When planning Brett and I's wedding, trying to think about what WE want most, it is enjoying the place we call home. So we are having a local wedding (buying as many things locally as possible), only 6 people will be there, and we are having a local honeymoon (with you-pick trips planned too).

Our families really don't seem to understand it. They offer us the opportunity to do anything we want, to go anywhere we please, and while it sounds fun, in our heart of hearts, we want to stay here in Columbia. I think travel is great for those that want to experience new things like that, but for Brett and I, Columbia is our paradise I suppose, and with 3 universities, the culture kind of comes to us. :-)

Angela said...

Interesting post. I don't see it as an either/or thing. I do think that if everyone traveled more and experienced the world through others' eyes, the world would be a better place. I have always had the travel bug, although like you I think it's lessened as I age. I attribute that to being happier in my everyday life. And that's a good thing. My husband and I took a five week trip to England last year, and I experienced the best of both worlds- a fantastic trip, and also so happy to be home.

Do you meditate or practice Buddhism- it sounds like you're learning the art of living in the moment! Congrats.

Heather @ SGF said...

Beany - What a wonderful perspective. I don't regret my travel. I have wonderful memories and stories and If I had to do it all over, I'd do it again. But I'm in a different place now and loving it.

Jennifer - That's great! When Dave and I got married (second marriages for both of us), we did it the way we wanted. First, it was just the two of us and two witnesses, we got married on April Fools Day because we figured no one would we believe we got married anyway (we both had sworn for years we'd never get married again), we got inexpensive bands and all, wore clothes from our closets, and had the best wedding ever (In all, I think it cost less than $200 and that was including the $100 for the judge since she had to come out on a weekend). It was right around easter that year and Dove Chocolate had some candies out in silver foil. So at the end of the ceremony we "released the doves" by giving everyone some :), I held two carnations in my hand and then we ate wedding cake out of the back of Dave's jeep (only we didn't have forks or a knife so we had to use a penknife to cut the cake. So many wonderful memories and all because we did it OUR way. I guess what I'm saying is don't cave to the pressure, make your wedding the way you want and enjoy the wonderful memories!

Angela - Ooh. Five weeks in England sounds heavenly! Where all did you travel?

In fact, I have been studying buddhism in the last couple years. Not so much the religion, but the psychology side of it. It's made an amazing difference in my life!

Angela said...

We spent most of the time in London- walking the streets, visiting the free museums and going to plays, and eating the delicious Indian food. We also took a 3-day trip to the countryside and visited Jane Austen's house (now a small museum), finally saw Stonehenge, and went to the coast at Lyme Regis. My husband had never been to Paris, so we also took the train and ferry to Paris for a 3-day stay and then took the bullet train back to London.

Glad your Buddhism studies have had a positive impact on your life. I'm planning to start meditating this year- I just have to get to a Zen center for a class!

Heather @ SGF said...

Angela - What a great trip! You know iTunes (free download if you don't already have it) has some great free resources for meditating. My favorites are Meditation Oasis and the Meditation Podcast.

Anonymous said...

I love supports local economies and my daughter gets so many new experiences (we backpack)
and it's not like we're travelling to wealthy western countries...

I hate the impact it has on the environment,
but we will continue to do so for as long as possible (selfish yes...but everything we do is selfish to some extent)

Heather @ SGF said...

Anonymous - It definitely does take a toll on the environment but so does every day living. I think if we are mindful in our choices and concentrate on the things we love (getting rid of some of things that don't bring us happiness), then we can do what we love (for you, travel) and not feel guilty.

For instance, you backpack and it sounds like you stay at family run inns and restaurants. Perhaps when at home, you bike or walk some of your errands instead of drive when possible. Maybe you are a hard core recycler, use cloth napkins, grow some of your own food, etc.

We all have to do what makes us happy, but we have to do it mindfully, recognizing that as we take from the Earth, we also need to make an effort to give back in some way. I don't know you, but it sounds like you are making those efforts to be mindful.

Anonymous said...

Absolutely, not to say that it's an excuse for travelling yearly..
but I don't drive, and never have.
I ride my bike to school 5 days a week and eat a local vegetarian diet...
haha none of that seems to rid me of my travel guilt though.

Heather @ SGF said...

Anonymous - Guilt is probably not healthy, but it's good that you are being mindful and considering the cost and compensating for it in other ways.