I have just returned from 12 days away in the UK. Although I get excited about potential travel I also get a bit rattled and unerved about the wrenching away from my familiar. Equally thrilled and anxious . I am thinking I am not the only one who feels this way . It’s such a leap of trust to step on an airplane squished beside absolute strangers you are supposed to sleep beside in a sitting up position . You know you will not sleep.
Even after the flight attendants (or video) are finished with their inflight safety presentation one questions how reassuring this all is as your plane rapidly climbs above the clouds and across an unseen ocean below. I am not fearful of flying-but I do dread the discomfort of all the squishing and hustle and finding and lugging of bags-and of course jet lag . I feel all of this so much more intensively at this stage of life.
Buying tickets for bus and train are altogether different than in years gone by and learning this in the moment provides yet another learning opportunity. Navigating is aided and not-by google maps. Remember always to charge your phone.
That said- I understand this is all good for me. It shakes me up ..I think differently ..My brain and body on full alert. I can get comfortable with my daily patterns and recognise that I am not bringing something new into my art, my relationships - or my world.
The thing that is special for me is the gift of solitary experience. The risks I take are mine . The stumbles I make in navigation are mine to resolve. How satisfying (although frustrating in the moment!) this is to discover problems in a foreign land can be solved on my own.
The gifts beyond all the discomforts of travel are plentiful . I am much more open to speaking with the people I encounter and this is so wonderful and rich. Sometimes I might be quiet for hours -the observer..thinking , absorbing. It’s a time to let my mind relax,reflect and lean into the experience. Choosing to being alone does not translate to lonely.
People have asked me what did I do with my time while I was away in a beautiful Scottish town? Sketch, walk , eat, drink coffee ,observe, smell and listen.. Talk to people ..meet with a few artists met before , walk more , read, explore -and look for fossils on the seashore. It was enough. It was heavenly.
The visuals and sensory experiences are intense -enhancing every moment . I see life around me a little differently and scoop up for later reference new experiences foreign from my little rural world at home.
For me this is a reminder to shake up my own tree a little when at home in my everyday life. To change my typical route of travel ..to listen to the early morning birds with intention .. to try a new food .. to learn something new . To try a different style of painting or to create something out of my comfort zone . . Revisiting the “Artist’s Date” from the “Artist’s Way “ by Julia Cameron seems also
to be a positive and user friendly way to incorporate sensory experience into my life at home!
I look at my fossils now and they remind me to keep on taking small risks , to expand myself and to offer myself this solitary /exploration experience from time to time.
When I read your stories, I continually am shocked at how much our experiences are the same! I’m in Jamaica now and feeling the same things! The absolute plus is what art will come out of this trip! It certainly outweighs any inconvenience or mind fog! 😘
You were my very first inspiration for travel Heather! I loved hearing about your preparations before backpacking through Europe and your many stories upon your return. You describe perfectly the beautiful aspects of solitude, observation and comfort with self moving through new spaces. I look forward to returning to my travels soon. And in the meantime, I, like you, try to incorporate exploration of familiar places I find myself in. Funny enough, after coming to the island for more than 50 years, I discovered two new areas of exploration this year! Dog walks are so much fun!