No matter how many material possessions, circumstances, friends or family I left behind temporarily or permanently, I always ended up taking the one thing with me that I could not leave behind: myself.
One travels more usefully when alone, because he reflects more. (Thomas Jefferson)
When I need a break from it all, I often resort to travel to find a different perspective. Some might perceive it as running away from issues, but by removing all daily routines and distractions I’m left with just myself. Nobody else to talk to, just myself to work things out. Travel ended up to be a catalyst for personal growth.
I ended up traveling more and more; removing myself further and further from everything I was familiar with. I put myself in new environments, new cultures, and even new languages every time. The only constant was me, the person undertaking the journey. I faced a lot of fears. My fear of heights, fear of being alone and in general a fear of the unknown. The heights are easy to deal with – there are many towers and viewpoints that I just had to see. And, since I’m an avid skier, riding some scary chair lift to the top of the mountain turned out to be the only way for me to be able to enjoy the ride down. The fear of being alone had a much bigger impact. Nothing could prepare me for the shock of moving across the Atlantic Ocean, ending up in more or less unfamiliar territory all by myself. No friends, no family, no one to turn to. It’s been an unbelievable confrontational experience, where life held up a different mirror every day about who I thought I really was.
Everything looks better in black and white, and in hindsight everything seems so much easier. All those fears got resolved and dissolved quickly. The only thing to do is go out there, meet people, and make new friends – and family. That in itself deals with the fear of the unknown at the same time. The only way is to go out, and explore. Make unfamiliar territory familiar. Unlike loneliness, being alone isn’t such a bad thing every once in a while. It gives time to reflect, think about what’s truly important to me as a human being. What are the things that I want out of this life, and where am I going next – both literally and figuratively speaking? It’s a hell of a ride if you commit to it, but worth every second and every penny you invest in it.
The feature image for this post is “Reflections“, a photograph of Rundle Mountain I took in Banff Canada. The mountain appears in almost every tourist snapshot of Banff, but rarely from this viewpoint.
This post also contains excerpts from my best-selling travel book The Freedom Project – available through Amazon and finer book retailers worldwide. Grab your copy today at www.freedomprojectbook.com.