Unsent Letter to Mom
As we near the home stretch of 2014, a few pieces of unfinished business tug at my mind. One is this blog, a regretfully neglected reminder that it’s been far too long since I last sat down in front of the screen to reminisce about our travel adventures. There seems to be an increasingly inverse relationship between the frequency of blogging and our travels, a trend that I hope to change in due course.
I’d like to kick off the countdown to 2014 with an unsent letter to my mom that I fished out of my draft folder just the other day. It was a casualty of the confluence of last minute travel plans and everyday life, almost finished but yet unsent, much like a lot of things in our lives.
My finger was poised above the delete key when I decided to re-read what I wrote.
What I found was that there was something to be learned from looking at our anxieties in hindsight. The tug-of-war between hope and fear when we stretch beyond our comfort zones becomes even clearer. We can see how the answer may be as simple as shining a light on the fears and leaping anyways.
So, Mom, it’s a little late, but I hope you enjoy it.
You have just received the detailed itinerary for your upcoming trip and you must be freaking out. That’s normal, considering that it was Jimmy who booked it. Jimmy, the travel maximizer who makes it his personal mission to leave no free stopover unused and views transits as another opportunity to tour a new airport. That’s the upshot of having a son-in-law who travel hacks. The optimal distance between two points is not a straight line, but a convoluted zig-zag scramble across the globe.
So go ahead and have a mini panic attack.
A lot of things could go wrong. You could miss your connection or board the wrong flight. Your luggage could go missing and you could find yourself stranded in a city of foreign speaking strangers. You could get into an argument with me or Jimmy and utter that infamous 5-word sentence that makes us all inwardly shutter- “I should have stayed home!”
I’m not going to sugar coat it. It could all happen. Some of it likely will.
But even with the possibility of travel calamity lurking in the bushes, there exists another equally probable and not mutually exclusive scenario – you could end up having the trip of a lifetime.
So before you let the what-if-worst-case-scenario gremlins take over, let me share with you a few of the things that travel has taught me in the hopes that they will give you the courage to tackle that upcoming itinerary with more gusto and resolve.
Change is inevitable.
Things don’t always go according to plan. Remain flexible and open. Some of the most amazing travel experiences we’ve had were totally unplanned and utterly spectacular. Allow yourself to lean into the moment and trust yourself to soar.
Stay present in the journey.
Remember it is the journey, not the destination, that matters. Don’t get caught in the drama of having to get from Point A to Point B on time. Point B will be there when you get there, but worrying about it doesn’t make you get there faster. In the meantime you’ll miss out on the amazing sights, sounds and experiences along the way. Until that time when we’ve perfected the science of teleporting from one place to another, rest assured that the human experience is incumbent on savoring the joy of the journey.
Laughter and a smile are your best travel companions.
We take ourselves far too seriously in our everyday lives. Use travel as an opportunity to shake off the normal burdens of responsibility and cultivate the joy of your youth. It’s only when we give ourselves permission to lighten our emotional and mental loads that we rediscover the true, beautiful self buried beneath the layers of expectation, disillusion and disappointment. Laugh often and smile for no reason. Let others think you’re crazy. And get ready to throw up your arms for the obligatory happy traveler picture. That’s non-negotiable!
That’s it. Life is simple and grand and you’re going to have an amazing trip!