I do my best thinking when I travel.
Whether it’s a short commute to work or a bus ride out of town for the weekend, I feel like that absence from being somewhere, that constant state of motion, really helps me to focus.
When I’m traveling I can let my mind wander, let my thoughts come to me naturally. I can give up control for a few minutes while someone else drives and just feel.
I remember once, when I was living abroad in Belgium, I was having a particularly bad day. In that moment I felt my homesickness as a sharp ache, a heavy feeling on my heart that I couldn’t seem to shake. So I got up, left my house, and even though I had no where in mind to go, I took the tram from the end of my block all around the city. The whole time I felt like I was on the verge of tears, but watching the scenery streak by out the window for an hour and a half somehow kept me whole. It kept me moving forward when everything in me felt shattered. After that, I booked three more trips out of the country, trips to keep me moving and seeing and experiencing.
I still get that aching feeling sometimes, still feel that sinkhole of sadness bubbling up to the surface on occasion. Mostly I can push it down or distract myself from it, but when I can’t, I run. Because in those moments I know it’s my body’s way of telling me I need to travel, to think, to feel. So just like that day in Belgium, I get up, I leave my house, and find somewhere scenic to walk around until my feet hurt. I move, I think, and I let my emotions in. I take in my surroundings and remember how lucky am I to be who and where I am. And that’s something I can’t do when I’m standing still.
I think part of the reason that I don’t drive is because I’d miss that opportunity to zone out. I can’t feel all there is to feel, see all there is to see, know all there is to know, if my eyes are glued to the traffic in front of me. If I had to focus on getting somewhere, then I feel like maybe all my emotions would just stay bottled up, waiting for an exit. But as a passenger, the time is mine. I can listen to my body and what it needs: sleep, a good cry, a healthy dose of visual medicine, a laugh at strangers on the subway. I can just let go and be me for a while.
I want to travel more and I really want to do it on my own. I loved solo walking the Seine in Paris, loved reading my book alone in the Highlands of Scotland. And I loved listening to the silence of the Negev in Israel, my eyes trained on the sky and the nearest person a quarter mile away, completely out of earshot. I’ve never been as in touch with myself as I was in those moments and I can’t wait for all the times yet to come.