To travel alone, unimpeded by another, is a magical gift. It’s a way to fully immerse ourselves in a culture so different, so far removed from the daily comfort level that we’ve grown accustomed.
As children, we are filled with wild ideas, hopes, and dreams and endless possibilities. Year by year, society slowly extinguishes the fire within by molding us into what it believes we should be. Like faithful soldiers, we conform. Guilt consumes us for being “selfish” enough to consider our passions obtainable and little by little, we hush our hearts, ignoring the voices that slowly turn to whispers, before becoming silent. All hope becomes lost and we give up on pursuing our destiny.
Only when we explore life beyond our comfort zone are we able to open our minds to the endless possibilities awaiting us. A heightened level of spirituality can only be reached when we blindly step into the darkness with our eyes closed and our hearts open. It is only then, we learn to strip away the layers of sediment that has, through time, hardened us. It is then, the weight of prejudice, judgment, and expectation become far removed.
To immerse ourselves in a different culture, foreign and unfamiliar without the capability to communicate in spoken words, is to have achieved a level of nirvana. Senses, such as sight, sound, smell and taste are heightened to levels beyond our imagination. To be unchained with the burden of spoken language in unfamiliar lands, and foreign cultures, is to have walked into the shadows exposed and vulnerable waiting to either falter or be filled with grace.
Often in our lifetimes, we reach this place, if only for a moment. Frightened by our emotional vulnerability, we slam the door on it, seeking an outside explanation for its appearance. For some, this place may not reemerge for a very long time. And when it does, most will once again dismiss it, allowing its voice to fade off amongst the monotony of our daily lives. Instead, we pass the time by filling the emptiness with tasks and obligations while waiting for what meets societal expectations- annual vacations, retirement, etc.
As the years pass and we continually lock our passions away, they, like any living thing devoid of sunlight and air and room for growth, will die. Our bar for happiness is lowered and we learn to rejoice small, barely noticeable events, coming to believe this is all there is to hope for. Maybe, it is all we deserve. By then, our dreams seem silly and unrealistic and we won’t dare mention them to others for fear of rejection. Instead, we give up on our selfish, unobtainable dreams and die, long before our bodies.
We are all afraid. As we mature, we fear even more. Unless we force ourselves out of our comfort zone, the space will become suffocating and smaller with time. Pushing ourselves beyond our comfort level and surviving to see the other side is a driving force that can sustain us and show us the beauty in everything.
Traveling alone offers so many adventures beyond imagination. Maybe it’s time for all of us to take a moment or a month, reevaluate our lives, and stop blaming circumstances for what we have become. Maybe it’s time to set aside some time to explore what’s out there, without guilt, without excuses, without procrastinating any longer.
Maybe it’s time to open our hearts, take a step into the darkness, and see what awaits us.