New Territory

Via Joie De Vivre (I think - not actually sure about the original source because tumblr's horrible for tracking that.)

Via Joie De Vivre (I think. Not actually sure about the original source because tumblr’s horrible for tracking that. I’m not even convinced this is a precise quote from HH Dalai Lama.)

I came across this image pinned on Pinterest and felt instantly both happy and guilty. I felt happy because, ever since I was about 20 years old or so, I’ve made it my life’s goal to travel someplace new every year. For me, travel is an essential part of a life lived with intention: it exposes me to new sights, sounds, people, cultures…ways of thinking, ways of interacting, and ways of being, so I can be more intentional about my habits of thought and action, choosing which ones are worth keeping and which are worth sloughing away. I’m the kind of person who gravitates towards friends I admire because I love to learn from them. It’s my friends who help me be more generous, more kind, more complimentary, more willing to stand up for myself, more funny, more open, more creative, and more courageous than I would have been, if left to my own devices.

Travel does that for me too. While others might worship power, money, status, or prestige, I bow to the altars of Freedom and Experience. I choose an unfettered life in which I can continually explore and learn and grow. I chose a lifestyle that affords me opportunities to do so, even if it means being far from people we love and that I roam outside the box, fall off the corporate ladder, and don’t fit in anyone’s pigeonhole.

I couldn’t always afford travel, of course. The greatest irony, I discovered when I graduated from college and started working at a publishing company, is that the college life afforded plenty of time to travel, but no money. I started working and had plenty of money, but no time. Nevertheless, I made my resolution stick. By hook or by crook, I would see some place new every year. It didn’t have to be exotic and it didn’t have to be fancy, or even comfortable. Sure, flying off to Greece would be lovely, but there were plenty of things to explore in my vicinity.

So, sometimes that new place involved a flight overseas (my 25th birthday present to myself was a trip, all by myself, to Germany). Some years it was as exotic as South Carolina. Or it was a festival in the desert, like Burning Man. Or just a new city in my home state. And I’ve bunked on couches, camped in tents, shared rooms in hostels, and even spent nights sleeping in a car to make it possible.

When I came across that pin, I felt so happy because this one life goal has brought me so many experiences and a life that I already feel has been so enriched.

But I felt guilty too. Because this whole living life with intention thing is an ongoing process. I’ve flown halfway around the world and landed in the tropics on the other side, but that grand gesture doesn’t let me off the hook. Just because I did it once, doesn’t mean I get to be complacent. If I want to still learn and see and experience and grow, I can’t forget my life goal.

And this year, I almost had–might have entirely, if I hadn’t seen that quote. Since getting pregnant, I’ve lain low. We had talked about going to Bangkok for a shopping & eating expedition at our favorite shops and restaurants, but I mentally shoved it aside, feeling uncomfortable with too much exertion when I felt I should focus on the baby. This year we’re celebrating our 5th wedding anniversary not by jetting off like we did last year, but by staying at an uber-fancy resort right here in town. (Turns out, when you don’t have to pay for transcontinental flights, you can put that money towards some swank accommodations!) And maybe that’s okay. The Parent ‘Hood is definitely new territory for us–a whole new wealth of experience and learning that I can only begin to imagine.

Now that I’m thinking about it again, we’ll probably work in a day or weekend getaway to one of the little towns near us that we haven’t yet seen. I hear Chiang Dao is beautiful, and it’s only a few hours’ drive away. I do wonder though, whether a new place in life constitutes a new place for being and seeing. Maybe, as Proust has said, it’s about seeing things with new eyes more than it’s about just seeing new things period.

Either way, every now and again, it helps to get that reminder to stay open.

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13 thoughts on “New Territory

  1. Love this post, Jade! And just as I was researching airfare and cringing at the hefty pricetag associated with flying in the summer. I love traveling too but I think what draws me in is the "choices" we get to make when we embark on a journey. Like you mentioned, when you don't have to spend money on a trans-continental flight, you get to stay at nicer accommodations…or if you spend more days in Paris, you will have less left for London :) What will you pick? How will you live out this journey?

    • Ooh where are you going?

      In general, I think I'd rather spend the money going somewhere fun, staying longer, and/or doing more stuff than spending it on accommodations (with some basic safety precautions in mind, especially when travelling as a woman alone). A hotel is just a place to crash in between the fun stuff, so I'm willing to put up with quite a bit less in the way of amenities. Having said that, I do enjoy a spot of luxury from time to time, so I'm actually really looking forward to a weekend of pampering at the Mandarin Oriental Dhara Dhevi <a href="http:// (http://www.mandarinoriental.com/chiangmai/)” target=”_blank”> <a href="http://(http://www.mandarinoriental.com/chiangmai/)” target=”_blank”>(http://www.mandarinoriental.com/chiangmai/) to celebrate 5 years of marriage! :)

      • Jade! We finally made definitely plans to go to London and Paris this summer! I'm so excited!! Neither Scott and I have been to London before, and I only spent 2 days in Paris the last time I was there. It will also be the first time Scott visits Europe :D

        • Oh that's so exciting!! I LOVE London – it's so much fun! Can't wait to see pictures from your trip. How long will you be there?

          • We are doing 5 full days in London and another 5 in Paris :) It'll be a little later in July but we're already so excited! I'm already dreaming of the sights and the photo opportunities! I'm also taking suggestions about what to see and what to eat while we're there so please recommend your favorites!!

  2. One of my buddies said it best – when you are in college, you have no money. When you are working, you have no time. When you're underemployed (as I was) and have both money and time, then you have guilt. Which is so true! I totally didn't take advantage of the time I had last year – empty stretches for months at a time. Ahh the paralysis of guilt

  3. You will be traveling on a journey of a whole new sort soon! And taking that baby on such adventures.
    Our first came just weeks after our 5th anniversary. To me it was perfect timing. I never regret the time we had as a couple before having kids. Now that our nest is just months away from being empty I am thankful we know how to live and be just the two of us.

    • Yes, I'm perfectly happy with the timing of this baby's arrival. We've loved having these 5 years together to grow with each other and just enjoy each other's company. I feel we're also more ready to give what's needed to raise a little one, since we've had so much time to follow our own pursuits and whims. We haven't missed out on anything, so we're ready to give and share more of ourselves now.

  4. You will be looking at travel with different eyes once the baby comes. :) I am so glad both C and I have traveled extensively before we had the kids. Now, for us, we have to look for 'child-friendly' destinations. The more adventurous places will have to wait… for now.

    • Haha I have a feeling we'll have to start seeing a LOT of things with different eyes once the baby comes! :)