Never stop exploring.
The motto for The North Face? Yes.
But these are also words I have tried to live by. I believe it is fundamental to my well-being (if not everyone else’s around me). Traveling is so good for the soul. It keeps me humble and grounded yet dares me to dream bigger than myself. It opens my eyes to new perspectives, allows me to meet new people, and shows me how small of a place my problems & I occupy. I never want to stop learning about the world, discovering borders I’ve never crossed, and finding myself in the process.
I will confess that I haven’t been doing that. For a while now, I’ve felt extremely restless because I haven’t been traveling. Maybe it’s the dreaded winter months and everything that comes with it, or the stress of timing and unreliable schedules, but all I can think about is planning my next adventure and how miserable I am not currently living it.
Sure, I’ve gone on day trips to wineries and breweries, and next month I am going to Minneapolis to present poetry. But that’s not enough for me.
I’m aching to dig out my passport and book a plane to any point on a map- anywhere but here.
I want foreign foods that set my appetite on fire and languages I don’t understand. I will not uncover the shock of a different culture in the States…right? So what’s the point?
Let’s be honest with ourselves, here. I understand not everyone has the freedom or finances to do so all the time. Some of us have demanding jobs, children, *student loans*, other responsibilities that could hinder our ability to jet off to a different country every month.
HOWEVER. You’re not off the hook. You can’t sit there and make excuses like I did, because I was wrong.
Adventure/traveling/exploring does not just mean abroad. It does not always have to mean a different continent or country. It encompasses more than where you go.
Here is a perfect example. I have lived in Pittsburgh for nearly four years. Had I ever gone to the Mattress Factory? No. So I did.
And if you can’t tell from the pictures alone, it was incredible. I traveled to a contemporary art museum. I went on an adventure around the neighborhood. I explored these experimental creations from artists around the world and learned the history behind some of the pieces.
Even though it was in the town I am currently living in and therefore, obviously, did not require me getting on a plane or showing my passport, I was still exploring in every sense of the word. And the thought that I was caught up in where I couldn’t go made me completely forget that I have the ability to still escape & explore in other ways, and that just because I’m not on Mount Everest or wherever right now doesn’t mean I a.) won’t be there someday and b.) that there still aren’t amazing sights I can see and heights I can reach.
As I was leaving the museum, this caught my eye:
“Arriving at each new city, the traveler finds again a past of his that he did not know he had: the foreignness of what you no longer are or no longer possess lies in wait for you in foreign, unpossessed places.”
Invisible Cities, Italo Calvino
I can’t begin to describe to you how true that is. We reconnect with a part of our selves that perhaps we never knew was there. I am a part of every place I have ever been, and yet am not defined by it. I’m not complete- I have not discovered everywhere yet.
While I can sit here and tell you how I traveled or why you should book that flight, I’ll save that for another post.
So, here are some ideas for when you want to get away, but feel stuck where you are:
- Try a new restaurant/bar. First off, it’s food & drinks. There should be no other explanation necessary. However, you get to experience the atmosphere of a new place, explore the menu, and give your taste buds an adventure. My boyfriend & I did this last weekend and I was floored by how much fun I had.
If you’re in the area, check out Butcher and the Rye:
2. Read a book. The best journey you can take without ever leaving your bed.
3. Take a class. Spin class, boxing, cooking, dancing, glass blowing, whatever your little heart desires or wants to know. Do that. It allows you to interact with a new group of people, plus adds to your skill set. Win-win.
4. Go on foot. Not everywhere is accessible by car or bus. Go hiking on some back trails, or explore that park you always pass.
5. Google your town, or the nearest town to you. Think about where you would take a friend who is coming to visit you that are touristy and must-sees. Been to all those places? Then do a quick search to see if there’s any attractions or landmarks you missed, or pick the next biggest town.
6. Pick up a new sport, or do something that scares you. I am training to run 26.2 miles when I never could run more than 2. What do you want to accomplish? What scares you? Dive in headfirst.
7. Don’t just window shop. Just because you can’t afford expensive jewelry doesn’t mean you can’t try it on. Why not go into a store or wander down a street you walk past every day on your way to work, but have never checked out?
8. Watch a documentary or listen to a podcast. Similar to a book, both watching & listening to stories allows us to follow them as they unfold. Plus, YOU CAN LEARN SO MUCH. I am all about killing those two birds with one stone.
9. See it from a different angle. Never take the train? Live near tons of rivers or lakes, but never been out swimming, fishing, boating, etc.? Get out there. Especially if it’s a hot air balloon, which I still have yet to experience. But, I kayaked on Pittsburgh’s three rivers and it was amazing.
10. Wake up for a sunrise. I will never quite understand how I am speechless every time I see one, or how it can make an everyday “old” view look so new and beautiful.
11. Try out a new recipe. Better yet, want to go to Spain? Thailand? Look up traditional foods and have at it.
12. If all else fails, just go. Take a Megabus (super cheap). Or go on a road trip, even if it’s to a place that’s less than an hour away. Walk. Run. Just go, and see where it takes you.
& don’t you dare forget to dream.