This post is edited from the original one posted in May of 2018. It seems appropriate for the season of summer and holiday travel.
Today I will head home from my work visit to Mexico City. It is good time to write out some of my travel mantras, as reminders to myself to enjoy the journey.
That’s the first one, actually: Enjoy the journey.
Here’s another one I like: Remember, everyone is fighting their own battles. There are struggles we may not see, that may affect others’ behavior.
The best one, when stress or anxiety come up is: Breathe, just breathe. It is all okay.
When I am practicing mindful awareness of my surroundings, I also like to remind myself of all that I am grateful for: the opportunity to travel, a kind word or smile I may receive as a gift from a stranger, and a life in which I am privileged to see into the window of other cultures as part of my work.
After returning from our U.K. trip in September, a friend of mine from my yoga class (retired English teacher) recommended I check out Daphne du Maurier based on my interest in Cornwall. She told me that both Rebecca and Jamaica Inn would be fascinating, especially now that I had a sense of the place.
Indeed I just read Jamaica Inn and I stayed up late as I finished the book. The author had built up such an ache of suspense that it was not possible to simply put the book away and go to bed at a sensible hour. Her writing is evocative and gives a visceral and haunting sense of the reality of Cornwall at the time.
Though I did not visit the particular locations she mentions, the reference to Plymouth reminded me of our trip. The descriptions of piracy gave me an entirely different picture of the place though, and particular sense of a darker time in history. Fascinating. I shall enjoy reading more of her work.
Considering that Halloween is this week, the Jamaica Inn was a suitably haunting read for the season. I realize I am 80 years late to the party, but I am grateful to have discovered her. As we move into this chillier season when we spend less time outdoors in Minnesota, I am always on the hunt for good fiction. If you have suggestions of classic work in this genre, I truly appreciate it.
This Wednesday as I travel home from LHT to MSP, I want to share an idea for a way to think when times get tough or you face difficulties. Of course, whenever I write about these themes, they are reminders for when my future self encounters a problem as well.
One thing I have observed in life and I recently remembered during my travels is that most mistakes are “recoverable”. One must remain flexible in many circumstances when conditions are beyond our control. International travel requires a certain level of planning and preparation, especially to do it safely and without too many hassles.
But hassles, delays, and bumps along the way are to be expected. This is really what life is too, traveling along our paths, hoping and planning for the best. But it is these bumps, these unexpected curves and bends in our paths, the tight spaces and the cramped tube rides that are reality. By avoiding these things, we avoid the fullness of life. By embracing reality, both the joys of amazing vistas and the bumps along the path, we are better served. We get less upset when things do not always work perfectly.
Humans are equipped with the ability to adapt to circumstances, to solve problems and figure out solutions. This is the key to our resilience. We do this automatically, and often choose similar solutions to “old” problems. Every now and then we may try something new, and get a new result. Some routines we develop over time (like meditation, reflection, journaling, etc) may help us learn lessons more easily or more mindfully.
By thinking through a path we took at one point, and questioning how we might do it differently now, or maybe acknowledging an important lesson learned, we can make peace with that choice. Of course, I realize this is a very deliberate practice, to make peace with our decisions rather than beat ourselves up over a mistake. But there is no point in regret.
Every move forward (or back, truly) in our lives teaches us something. Sometimes we learn we do not want to repeat that move. Other times we meet a new person who becomes a friend. Or we find out someone we thought was our friend really did not share our values. This is all good information. We learn along the way.
It is important to remember our resilience. Sometimes we get caught in feeling sorry for ourselves about an event, or a bad experience. It is okay to experience whatever emotion comes up, maybe even write about it or talk with a friend if needed. But then we can move on, knowing that our resilient spirit will keep moving us forward, no matter the circumstances.
Yesterday was a long travel day. Longer than I expected. By the time we arrived at our final Airbnb we had been “in motion” for 8.5 hours. This included a ride to the train Doune station, a train ride to Edinburgh, a tram ride to the airport, some time eating lunch there, a short flight to London Luton, a train ride to the tube station. A couple tube transfers later, we finally made it to Canary Wharf, up three sets of stairs to a lovely and artistically decorated renovated warehouse flat here.
Having been out & about among people for so long (and in such confined quarters on the tube) with people, I was feeling ready to shut out the world, not visit with our hosts. Hopefully they understood. My introvert self wanted to retreat, spend time alone or just with my husband. On day 13 of this vacation, I now feel relieved we will be going home tomorrow. I miss my own bed, our quiet townhome, our kitties who will no doubt be a bit miffed with us for being gone for 2 weeks.
I enjoy doing the Airbnb experience because it gives you a window on people’s lives in another part of the world. While I am not wild about the times we have had to share a bathroom (about half of the lodgings on this trip), I still think the experience beats staying in a standard, traditional hotel. You must read the descriptions carefully and the reviews to make sure a place fits your needs.
On the eve of returning home, sitting in this lovely apartment and enjoying some solitude, I would still do the trip this way. I may be a little more selective on locations, and try to stay at least 2 days (sometimes 3) in each, instead of the few where we only had one night en route. Given the limitations of not driving here, I would say I did fairly well.
I may have a little “armchair” sociologist in me, getting this window on another person’s life and home, getting fuel for my future stories and books I will write. And part of me enjoys the adventure of not knowing exactly what we will find each time. Not only do you save some money off the expense of regular hotels, but you also gain the benefit of receiving an inside look at some of the real ways people live.
I am taking home with me a treasure trove of new experiences, ideas, inspirations and some lessons as well. How grateful I am for all of it.