Going places that I’ve never been…

and rambling a bit on the nature of travel.

Travel is a marvelous thing for many reasons, but should to be confused with ‘vacation.’ There may be overlap but there may not and one should not assume that because vacations often involve travel, travel will also involve a vacation. I travel for work a lot, no vacation in that for sure. And one of my favorite vacations is the staycation, which combines the comfort of my own bed with lots of cool things in the Bay Area that I don’t normally do. But right now I am in the midst of travel and I am realizing that like any other activity that tends toward being ‘always on’ it is important to stop, relax, contemplate and simply be.

I tend to prefer staying at home to being away because I have issues with control and if I am in my own space I have a sense of control. Travel requires flexibility and risk and neither of those things live in my comfort zone. I can do it if I have to, it’s just not my favorite. I also get insecure when I don’t know how to do something exactly right and so I have a tendency to avoid those situations or surround myself with people who I believe I can rely on. Hence it is easier for me to hire a car and driver when traveling than to avail myself of the public transportation. That method is however, rather more costly and less adventurous and less self-reliant and independent and so on. This time I decided to provide myself an opportunity for personal growth, and to see how far I’ve come in personal growth. It turns out the public transportation in many places is basically a breeze and when not you can just ask for help. Also I have a smart phone and it is actually extremely smart!

I like to be in a place and experience what it feels like to be there. I am not a check-box tourist trying to see all the sites and then moving on to the next thing. As a result I see far fewer things that more motivated travelers, I think I may also learn less about the historical facts. I would rather stand in St. James chapel at the Tower of London, touching the pillar that has stood for centuries watching kings and queens and traitors and victims, than I would reading about the nature of the stone and the architectural proportions of the room. One day I was standing in the room looking at the block upon which Lady Jane Grey was removed from her head, and the next day I saw the scene depicted in paint hanging in a museum, it was quite a thing to feel my place in the larger world. That is what I like the most about travel, the in your face humility of being just one small person in such a big place and through such long time.

Today I was standing in a nine hundred year old crypt looking at Christian art from the middle ages. We’ve come an awfully long way and we have not got very far, we still struggle with the same longings, the same seeking after things and trying to understand. I like the feeling of putting my foot on stone that is smooth and indented with the age, with so many years of people like me moving through this space, it makes me feel more connected to all of the people I see, we are all doing this thing together.

The last few days have been busy and filled with things to do and see and experience. Important pieces of art and history, culture and conflict. My brain has been busy cataloging and noting, but I have not had much time to just sit and feel them. I need a little vacation from my travel so I can process, if you will, some of what my eyes and feet have been taking in and standing on. Tomorrow I will go sit at a cafe in a square that has been continuously inhabited by people for over six hundred years, I will just sit and think, and feel humbled to be a part of this world, and curious about what I will learn next, and be ready to grow into the next part of whatever I will be.

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