It’s starting to dawn on me that travelling by your-self is an inherently selfish act, especially if you have friends and family that you will leave behind for any length of time. Essentially, you go where you want, when you want, for reasons of your own – no point wasting time caring if anyone agrees with them or not.
When I told my Dad I was going to India for 6 weeks as my first destination, his face contorted in what I can only describe as anguished dismissal – “what you want to go there for, it’s dirty and not exactly a barrel of laughs” – or words to that effect.
This coming from a well-travelled, ex-officer in the Merchant Navy was a little strange to me. Then again, these days he’s not looking for anything more than a toilet with a seat and a well plumped pillow – and why should he, he’s worked hard all his life from the age of 16, raised three children and is probably the most ‘together’ person I know.
The next thing that I realised was IT’S OK TO BE SELFISH – as long as it’s the good kind of selfish.
Modern, urban society is seriously fast paced and multi-media-centric. We are constantly bombarded with external stimuli, opinions, expectations on our time and conduct and forced to share personal space with all and sundry on a daily basis. It’s very easy to get stuck in a cycle where all that we say and do is aimed at garnering the right reaction or cultivating positive opinions from others.
By focusing so wholly on the external we forget to listen to ourselves and over time this results in the opposite of what I believe we all set out to do in the first place – be a good person and positively affect those around us. If we don’t take time to acknowledge our own desires and fears and listen to the needs of our bodies we often end up projecting onto the world a personality that is stressed, ambivalent, anxious, angry and unsympathetic.
If we aren’t looking after ourselves physically and mentally then how do we expect to be a happy and contented person who in turn brings both tangible and intangible positivity to those around them?
Certain people had been trying to get me to acknowledge this for what seems like forever. The fact that I didn’t, as well as the time and opportunities that were wasted as a result; these are the things I need to forgive myself for. *
So for me travelling will not just open up my mind to the world, it will also give me the time and space to start listening to myself. I’m hoping I can learn the value of the simplistic from the people and cultures I meet. To make the most of it I am following the advice of people who are both more knowledgeable and qualified than me. Implementing small things on a daily basis so once I’m away I will have the foundations on which to build truly valuable experiences.
*Caveat – Think of this as a mantra that I continually remind myself of and try to live up to but please don’t think I am a beacon of positive life values and wellbeing. That is the end goal but right now the whiskey bottle is within arms-reach and far easier to get hold of. Add a twist of Seasick Steve and you have yourself a night…