“Don’t ask what the world needs. Ask what makes you come alive, and go do it. Because what the world needs is people who have come alive.” – Howard Thurman
Thank you Howard Thurman, you are so damn right – the world simply needs more people who have ‘come alive’ and traveling is one of the most effective ways to ‘lean in’ to life. Travel forces you into the beauty, the guts, and the rawness of life. It allows you to shred the perfect picture and touch your hands on something real. With all the madness going on in the world now, sometimes I find myself on an emotional roller coaster between hating the world and loving it. Sometimes it’s easy to get wrapped up in the chaos, the turmoil, and the horrible situations humans put each other in. This is why travel matters now more than ever, and this is why we can’t shut each other out, but should rather open ourselves up to the world and everything in it.
Here are 8 reasons why travel (hopefully) makes you feel a little more alive:
You learn to live in your own skin, wherever it may take you
It forces you to show up for life
It splashes reality across your face
The media’s portrayal of cities is often skewed, and many countries deemed ‘off-limits’ may be safer than your backyard. This makes it hard to get a taste of reality behind the lens as nothing compares to touching a place with your bare hands. It allows you to not only scrape the surface but bloodies your fingers and leaves a piece of you on its rugged edges. Traveling encourages you to wake up (and into) reality. Reality like riding an hour-long train across Mumbai – a mixture of foul body odor, sweat, crying babies, and claustrophobic conditions shoved down your throat. But, then, a fresh wisp of Indian air pours through the carriage and a beautiful woman in a sari smiles the most genuine smile you have ever seen, and then it hits you: happiness, a pure, unaltered bliss.
It allows you to develop the fortitude to fail
Failing is inevitable. Failing happens every single day on the road, and in life. But, what does it mean to fail? Does it encompass the draining feeling of missing a train due to circumstances beyond your control? Or stumbling in broken Spanish to the stranger next to you, or getting lost on the way to Mecca, then finding a new adventure to call your own? Travel allows you to redefine what failure is, and it forces you to fail forward, fail backward, fail anyway – and then get the hell up. Failure teaches us that it’s okay to be wrong about our preconceptions of ourselves, the stigmas of other cultures, and about any perception we construct about the world. It is okay to be wrong, it is even better to embrace it.
It tattoos experience on your soul
It satiates your thirst for exploration
When was the last time you hopped out of bed with eyes full of wonder? Being on the road, traveling to the state next store, or being thrown in a new environment reinvigorates the notion that life is good, people are good. It reactivates the thirst for discovery and an innate need to explore more, live more, uncover more. For me, the most interesting part of travel is digging in people’s dirt, uncovering the layers beneath the smile (or frown). Exploring people is just as important as exploring monuments, places, and other bucket-list items. The people are the ones you will remember, those are the faces you’ll dream of.
It is the best medicine – it pulls you out of ‘technology sickness’
It leaves you wanting one more bite of whatever that just was
The Nick Miller quote: ‘travel is wishing for one more bite of whatever that just was,’ sticks with me every day. It reminds me of the simple moments that I always wish I could linger in a bit longer – the aroma of a fresh cup of Colombian coffee, the buzz after one too many cigarettes and German beers, the tingling feeling of a foreigner’s gaze upon your face, the late night conversations that keep you up until dawn, the strangers who come into your life for a one-day adventure, yet feel like old-time friends.
These moments always leave me wanting one more sip of wine, one more minute glancing at the miniature Mona Lisa, one more hushed conversation in a hostel room, and just one more bit of whatever that just was…
Being alive is such a different experience for every human. It is tougher for some, and easier for others – and I will never really understand this existential lottery we are all born into. For me, being alive means smiling through life, experiencing and not only consuming, and continually struggling to find the balance between it all.
If you are feeling burnt out, upset, numb, or even depressed – travel. It does not have to be far, I don’t mean you have to buy a plane ticket across the pond, I mean try getting into the traveler’s mindset. Try moving through life with a little more awareness, a little more wonder for what the next moment of uncertainty may bring. Travel helps me create a little more appetite for life. It nudges me alive, and I hope it makes you feel alive too.