Growth happens outside of your comfort zone.
Travel feeds your soul, sparks wonder and enriches your life in ways that you don’t realize until long after you’ve returned home.
Take a chance on your own happiness – Travel
For some people, traveling is the most natural thing in the world. They can pack up a bag at a moments notice and set off on an adventure without any planning. The flexibility and the unknown fuels their excitement.
For others, every moment must be mapped out in advance. Every stop, place of lodging, point of interest must be put on a strict itinerary. Not having a plan causes too much stress to enjoy the trip.
And then there are people like me – the ones who find themselves somewhere in between these two poles.
Maybe the how isn’t so important. But doing it at all does.
This photograph was taken at 6:00 am on December 27, 2016. I saw this sign while milling around in the terminal at JFK Airport. I was killing time before boarding a flight to California.
As a nervous flyer, I have a hard time sitting still before boarding, especially when I’m by myself. And so when I exhaust my interest in staring at my phone, I wander the terminal looking at keychains, magnets, crappy t-shirts, and tiny license plates.
Ya know something? Those stinkin’ little plates never have my name spelled correctly. Ever. The extra ‘a’ in Rachael has put a serious damper on my personalized tchotchke game.
It’s Okay to be Afraid – But, Go Anyway
At the time that I took the photo, it seemed like a sign. One that I needed. In the days leading up to my departure, I had doubts that I was doing the right thing. Setting off on a solo riding trip is selfish. Not only that, I missed my family before I even left.
Being at home, or firmly in the familiar keeps you feeling safe. But growth happens when you take a deep breath and do what scares you. Sometimes punching your fear in the fucking face is necessary.
Maybe you’ll find happiness in taking the leap, or maybe you’ll find it wasn’t worth it. Regret comes from things undone and not seeing for yourself, not from trying and failing.
Trust Your Support System – They Love You
While he was still with me in the terminal, Kenny, knowing my I’m scared / unsure / I want to bail face gave me a little pep talk telling me it would be great, and that I would have fun as soon as I started riding.
Having a support system in your life gives you the courage to tackle anything.
Kenny wasn’t wrong. When I finally got on the road, I began to decompress.
A Leap of Faith Pays Off
Though I was still feeling guilty and insecure, my first riding day in California still had the magical quality that I only find when discovering new places. It gives me something like a high.
Riding south and then east from Long Beach, my day began to unfold and the process of centering started. I was on my own and following my whims on a motorcycle 3,000 miles from home.
Throughout the day, I ping-ponged around looking at things, getting used to an unfamiliar motorcycle and enjoying whatever the universe presented before me.
Travel Feeds Your Soul
When the sunset started to ring the last call bell, I was standing at the base of Salvation Mountain. Though I’m not religious, I am not immune to the power of messages of love, fellowship and the idea of faith in something greater than ourselves.
The warmth and sunshine at Salvation Mountain stirred something deep within me. As the golden light illuminated everything in the desert, I felt overwhelmed by something I still can’t quite articulate. It was akin to awe, smallness, humility, gratitude, fear, love, wonder, hurt, and happiness all rolled into one.
My body felt like it carried a secret that was bricked up inside. Being in that place, taking in those messages of faith and love, began to gently dismantle the wall that I’d so carefully built. The hurt that I held so close started to overflow and seep out. It was the beginning of an impending release.
It is moments like these when I know that having the privilege to travel is a gift. When you leave home, you go in search of yourself. Sometimes you find answers to questions you didn’t even know you had.
Change Happens – Whether You Like it or Not
When I awoke the following morning in the town of Brawley, I had a Salvation Mountain hangover. The time spent there had a lasting effect on me for reasons I could not pinpoint. Coupling that with not being completely at ease with the choice I’d made by taking the trip at all – the morning proved to be cathartic.
Standing there on the side of the road, looking out at the desert deep and wide, I broke down and cried. I was so overcome by emotion, I didn’t know what else to do. The dam that held everything inside of me crumbled and my soul poured out.
It was in that moment of release that I knew that I needed to forgive myself. I needed to forgive myself for being there alone in the desolate landscape, for missing my family but going anyway, for crying, for feeling ashamed, for loving what I was doing. Because I was exactly where I needed to be.
Traveling and leaving your comfort zone exposes your oft-guarded ability to feel, to be vulnerable, and to connect with the world.
Travel feeds your soul, even when you didn’t know it was hungry.
About This Post: A Picture Is Worth 1,000 Words
Even when you love writing and sharing your thoughts and images, it can be easy to let the noise of everyday life distract you. I struggle with this frequently.
So, in order to keep up with the practice of writing, I created a Trello board full of post ideas, I’m using a social post scheduler, and I’m even using topic generators to help me along. In essence, I’m using productivity tools I would use to stay organized in the office – to stay focused on something I love.
One of the blog ideas that I was recently given was to take a single photo and write 1,000 words about it. These words are them.
As always, thanks for reading.