How Travel Is Good For Your Soul

So a while back I wrote about concealed depression. As I went back and read what I had written on the same the sad reality hit me that I conquered it then and somehow the grasp of it was so strong that it pulled me back yet again.

And I found myself with the questions that have kept me awake many a night only to fall asleep at some point surrounded by these thoughts. And to wake up to a tear soaked pillow, at certain times, night after night.

And I found myself re-reading and ‘re-feeling’ the questions I asked then –

Would anyone be scared to lose me? (rather a specific someone whom you trust with your heart and faith and who promises the same?) It makes one question their value and worth in the eyes of those they consider important. And the ever looming question: Is my worth as an individual truly reciprocal?

It is not about grand gestures or flattery but the slightest acknowledgement and appreciation for the other which can help the spirit soar in ways that are indescribable. It is the warm feeling we experience, when we smile not just with our mouth but with the eyes – when those we consider significant, are pleasant to us. Just that, simply pleasant.

As unconditionally as one might feel, it goes without saying that the heart yearns for the same. The same warmth, support and security that is given out to hopefully finding its way back too. Yes indeed we do not give in the hope of receiving however we form alliances with an understanding of this very basic expectation. To love and be loved.

As I sit at my desk and try to look for a reason to feel at peace amidst the turmoil in my mind – the questions, fears, doubts, partly my doing and partly provided by another, I find solace in the most unexpected event – The rustle of the leaves blowing right outside the window, breezing past, resulting in wisps of hair across my face almost like a gentle caress on the cheek. As winter seems to be wearing off and the season lifts it appears that it’s trying to tell me something. That as transient as seasons are, so is the sorrow and pain. And the breeze reminds me of how often the wind provided me comfort at times when nothing else could.

I have been fortunate to experience a nomadic way of life every few days despite a full time job. The ability to pack my bags and head anywhere without a second thought to finances and responsibilities, fills me with gratitude every time. I am aware of how lucky I am to be able to do so and the reason I hold a full time job is a means to this need (as well as passion for my job!). And the wind seems to be reminding me to head out again.

When no one and nothing could save me, travel did. From the crisp mountain air to the balmy beach breeze it made me feel alive. I could sense my breathing after all the times of feeling breathless due to panic. I could sense how calmly my body responded to nature. I could feel myself smile from within reassuring myself that I am conscious and alive.

I find myself checking destinations, flight tickets, and a place away from all the noise in hope of finding my next adventure. Why is travel so important to me? Because anything that aids in breathing peacefully becomes a source of life itself. I would rather have a passport with various stamps and a heart full of memories instead of a house stacked with objects.

And so I realize just how much travel in a physical space has helped me cope with life’s struggles, I wish for everyone to do so in their little and hopefully big way. Start by taking a walk (not jog!) – No phone or iPod in tow. Walk through a park or a garden and look at what’s around. Not glance. Actually stop and see it – take it all in. Watch how the colours and the texture add beauty to the surroundings. Don’t observe people. Not just yet. Just Mother Nature in all her glory, in probably the simplest of places. Even though your problems wouldn’t fade with the fall of a leaf or a flower you may pick up off the ground – it will remind you of the beauty of life. And how giving up seems so wasteful – to not be able to live to see a flower bloom or the sun set on the horizon.

Now think if you could do this for not 30 minutes, but a day, a week, a few weeks? Why stop ourselves from feeling alive? When at times all we seek is a life raft. And then you have it right in front of you – yet you hold back. For what? For whom?

My travels took me from the desert strip and melas at Pushkar to the twinkling lights and city of romance, Paris. From the Ganges at Rishikesh to Greece painted pretty in white and blue. From the beaches at Goa to the countryside at Scotland. From the valley in Kashmir to the mosques in Istanbul. And at each place I discovered how small I seemed in a world that loomed so large. It made me want to live, to experience – one more city, one more culture, another local flavour in the food, to hear the melody of another language or dialect. It took me 30 years to realize I was born to run free. What better antidote could there be to a sense of despair and feeling alienated or abandoned than to feel you do belong?

And travel makes you feel that you truly belong. As a citizen of the world that too.

Travelling for the soul would make you experience how each place you visit seems to open its door to you.

Let that weight lift from your heart, however temporary it seems, but allow yourself time for you. It is better to be absent from home or work for some time than be absent from your life. Make it count. Make your presence count – even if it’s just to you.

 

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