How the words of Walt Whitman resonate as the year closes:

Afoot and light-hearted I take to the open road,
Healthy, free, the world before me,
The long brown path before me leading wherever I choose.

“Healthy” and “free”, descriptive words to evoke what traveling symbolized to Walt.  The further I delve into a gypsy existence, traveling is a mental, emotional or spiritual awakening.  Oh, but let’s not forget the physical benefits.

  • Blood pressure, heart rate, and levels of epinephrine – a stress hormone – decline on holidays after only one or two days.
  • An annual vacation can cut a person’s risk of heart attack by 50%.
  • Travelers rate their overall health one full point higher (on a scale of 1 to 5) while on vacation. They also get three times more deep sleep after their vacation.

Interesting.  I had always measured travel by how it makes me feel.  Good.  Ecstatic.  Never how it affects me physically.  Clearly, travel is a holistic venture.  It can garner several meanings for many people.  Almost Fearless or Nomadic Matt view it as freedom.  A guidebook writer might treat it as a systematic job with added perks.

Freedom is about 50% of it for me.  The other 50% is devoted to the concept of change.

It was a Monday, I sat at my cubicle station, clicking my mouse, my wrist supported by a special mouse pad to combat wrist strain.  I hadn’t seen the top of my desk in weeks, piles of paper sneered at me in silent judgment.  Recirculated air hit my nostrils causing me to cough.  A steady lump of emptiness sat in my heart.  Always there, never altering or ending.  It started in my belly, traveling towards my throat, when the words touched my lips, I croaked to stop them.  For all I wanted to do was push away the desk and scream, “It wasn’t supposed to be this way!!!”

TRAVEL.  To get out of my head and into sensation and instinct.  TRAVEL.  Because the number of countries I visit should equal my age.  TRAVEL.  When I do, new ideas spring forth and my bravery meter shatters the dial.

After reading Gretchen Rubin’s article on pursuing happiness, I also see this adventure as my happiness project.  Whatever metaphor you wish to apply to traveling, grab the opportunity and go.  It may just change your life.

Source: TIA
Photo Source: Mattox