First of all, I love to travel, as I’m sure that most of us who read Shawn’s blog do. I took my first Wonder Voyage with him this summer. It was an enriching, nourishing experience for my soul and a stimulant for my mind and imagination. Travelling is great, and it’s best to do it with the right mindset and philosophical approach, and for many of us it’s what keeps us alive in an exciting, wide-eyed world of wonder.
But what do you do if you have the pilgrim’s itch and you just can’t travel?
Having lived for the past eight years with a very high level of debt and very low level of income I have been unable to travel anywhere near as much as I would like. While friends and family jet off to all points of the globe, I kick back my heels and keep treading the same path to work every day, day after day, day in day out. To someone with even a drop of wanderlust in their blood, this can be a debilitating prospect. However, as I’ve found, it’s as important to have a right attitude to staying at home as it is to have a right attitude to travel.
You don’t have to go somewhere exotic to have an epiphany. Where you are right now is as exotic a place to the people who are in whichever place you would be traveling to – and I speak as someone who was raised in Nebraska. In his book Heretics, G. K. Chesterton wrote to the effect that there are no boring people – there are only bored people. The higher qualities of passion and enthusiasm exist in the person who is perceived as boring, and the qualities of inattention, frustration, and finally intolerance are present in the person being bored. It is the same with places. There are no places that are boring, there is only a place that you are bored of. And if that’s the case, then the onus is on you to change your state of mind if you cannot change your location.
Here are three tips to bringing the drab, grey landscape around you back to life.
One: turn off distractions. Stop making the morning commute, the drive to the supermarket, or the school run a task to be mentally avoided. Eject the audiobook, take out your headphones, and leave your phone at home for the forty minutes you’ll be out. We split our attention in so many different ways these days. Make separate times for all the activities that we stack like reading a book, listening to music, and journeying. Just experience the sensation of moving, and open up to the world that you are moving through. Be ‘in the now’, as my parents’ generation put it. Make the familiar sights and landmarks your liturgy of travel – something acutely familiar, and also deeply meaningful.
Two: slow down. In a word, walk. This is very counter-intuitive. Consider – seriously consider – just walking somewhere several miles away. It won’t likely be easy, and you’ll need to prepare, but I believe that you’ll find it thrilling. By God you’ll be happy to be there at the end of it. Instead of slouching in with a moan and a hunched back you’ll burst through the doors with a beaming face and a gasp of gratitude. I love walking to work, even if I seldom do it. Placing one foot in front of the other in a measured, sustainable fashion is a great metaphor for our time on this earth. It gives opportunity to contemplate what is being done in our days and if every day is as useful a step towards our goal as the one we’re literally taking right now. And if that’s not the case then you’re walking in the wrong direction. Take the time to reflect, but also take the time to let your mind wander.
Lastly, and most importantly, greet your fellow travellers. The people that you pass or encounter as persons like yourself living in a world with a viewpoint, philosophy, and emotion just as real to them as yours is to you. They are also a traveller on a pilgrimage and if they have become bored of where they are, then try to help them out with that. Don’t mistake that for weariness, however. A lot of times people are not jaded, they’re just tired and need you to help lighten the load.
Silence, physical activity, and human consideration. These are the three core elements which the modern world tries to push out of us and which are unarguably essential for every aspect of our existence. You don’t have to take an exotic vacation to find them, you don’t even have to take time off work, you just have to apply a little discipline. Do it just once and you’ll wonder why you never did it before.
I met Ross a few years ago at a writers retreat and we quickly became friends over a discussion about comic books. Ross is a prolific writer. The first book in his fantasy trilogy THE ANCIENT EARTH SERIES was released last year. You can read a review of ‘The Realms Thereunder‘ then go to your local bookstore and buy a copy. Book two will be out soon. Ross and I led a Wonder Voyage to Iceland this summer where he taught me about the glories of the Icelandic Sagas. I cannot wait for further adventures with my friend. Check out Ross’ Blog.