Not all of the travelling that I write about involves a ticket and a passport. For me it goes much deeper. To travel is to incite change. A journey can simply mean personal growth. Whilst my childhood family travels encouraged the desire for future cultural exploration, I am quite sure that my personal experiences in life greatly informed the desire to seek connection in difference or solace in contemplation. I always stress to those that comment on my life journey that my life is no better or worse than others’. I hate to think that the events I have lived through, and the tales that grow from them, would make my hardships any different or more important than those of other folk. But they have certainly had a massive impact on my view of the world. Today, a drive along a road from my past triggered contemplation of the paths we take and what we take from the journeys.
On a routine trip between appointments, I chose to take a route that I haven’t driven for perhaps 7 or 8 years. When last I followed it, it linked a new, rather lost phase of my life with one that I missed with aching pain. It was a time of dark heartbreak after the heights of happiness. As I ventured there today, like a fingernail tracing the scar of a long distant wound, the sensation brought emotions and sensations flooding back. For a good part of the drive, I was reliving the loss and the heartache of those times. On the stereo in the car, the words of a song echoed in my roving mind, rising to the surface of consciousness:
“Holding on to the memories of when we were younger, I can’t forget ’cause when we were together, that’s when I was at my best…. And would you know me now?…tell me all the things I long to hear, like that was my favourite year? ‘Cause that was my favourite year”
I contemplated how I had grown since those times and that particular part of my personal travels.
Happiness is such an arbitrary creature. Fish or poison?
My adult travels grew from a need to belong. I was searching for a place in the world that resonated with something within. A divorce had left me lonely and insecure; intent on seeking ‘something’. I was too fixated on the need for another person in my life to make me whole. A happy childhood as an adopted sibling who had then lost her mother and brother had left me wondering about connection. Too much loss to assimilate. I thought I was unhappy in my solitude. So I pushed for change. I chose travel as the catalyst for my personal growth. And it worked to some degree, except that I mistook the relationships along the way as the solutions to my happiness. They clouded my perception and at times I got lost in them.
Now, I can see that I love to travel because it heightens my awareness, not just of the location I am in but also of myself. By sitting in contemplation of the differences between the places that I visit, I start to see the light in myself and I move from the darkness. I love to return sometimes because it forces me to look with new eyes. Our experiences are always overshadowed by our emotional state. The solitude that I once pushed against is now the thing I value.
My photos give an astonishing insight into my psyche. On several occasions I have returned from holidays to new destinations where I have felt somewhat disconnected or uninspired. But once I am back in clearer personal space, I look at the images and observations I have made and discover that I almost always have a eye for the beauty and the connection. Oftentimes the disconnection has been a result of my own mental state. Some spots will always be tainted by the memories. Some spots just have to be left alone perhaps, until a happier memory can overwrite the old.
The thing I have learnt to acknowledge in my travels is that we have the power to make the change that opens our eyes to the world around us. It is not the place that informs the emotions, it is our attitude to where we are at that moment in time and to what we can take from the experience. We don’t have to belong somewhere for it to resonate. We just need to be happy to welcome the sensation of place and how it affects us there and then.
Sit quietly, listen to the inner feelings… That is where the belonging begins.
That is where happiness lies for me.
Thanks for indulging my search for me