Not all who wander are lost
"And suddenly you know: It's time to start something new and trust the magic of beginnings." -Meister Eckhart
A lot of books have been written about the life-changing nature of solo traveling. It's unavoidable that after opening your eyes to the world you can't help but want to tell everyone about it and encourage them to do the same. My story is inevitably similar to a number of others, but also in its own way unique. Regardless, here are a few of the things that happened and that I learned during this past year. I share with no other intention than to simply reflect...and maybe inspire others to find their most satisfying version of life.
1. I became 100% certain that it's ok to not always know what's going to happen next, in travel or in life. Wandering can open the doors to some of the best surprises.
2. I met the most amazing people in the most amazing places. I can't think of a better way to phrase this one, but can say with absolute certainty that the people I met along the way are what truly made the journey worth it.
3. I realized that there is not a one size fits all prescription for life. Some people like the glitz and glamour of Hollywood. Some find satisfaction is swimming underwater with the fish all day. Some don't know what they want, but are having a fun time figuring it out. Every single one of these is an awesome adventure in its own way.
4. I met the love of my life and he changed everything. ❤️. Sometimes in life, we don't really know what we're looking for until we find it.
5. I began to understand that one of the most important things about life is not where you are or what you've accomplished, but that you are simply willing to be amazed by and open to whatever life wants to show you that day. I think finally I understand the notion that everyday is a miracle and a gift and we are happiest when we treat it as such.
6. I learned about boundaries. We are under no obligation to anyone, to be anything or do anything we don't want to be or do. I learned to be ok with saying no, since after all, this journey belongs to me and no one else.
7. I learned to embrace spontaneity. And also, on the other hand, that sometimes just a little bit of planning can go a really really really long way in preventing wasted money, time and energy. Balance is the key to health and happiness.
8. I learned what's really important in life, for me at least; experiences, genuine friendships, and a fulfilling vocation to name a few. Money has value to an extent, but is only a facilitator. No amount of money could replace the incredible everything that was this year of budget traveling.
9. I developed a new appreciation for home. Even though for the past year I've referred to "home" as wherever my backpack of possessions is, my real home home will always be Denver. Now that I've spent a year learning about and appreciating other cultures, I have a new found desire to reconnect with my own and revel in the comforts that it offers.
10. I've gained perspective. On a macro scale, like what's culturally appropriate across country borders. I've also gained perspective on a more micro level, like knowing which problems are worth worrying about and which ones will likely solve themselves and aren't worth my time and energy. Most importantly, I've learned that in the end everything will work out exactly the way it's supposed to.
11. I learned about the simultaneous fragility and resilience of life. We can withstand an amazing amount. We can also say goodbye to this life with literally one (wrong) blink of an eye. This duality is what makes every single day--no matter where you are or what you are doing--so treasured and exciting.
12. I learned that there is no need to fear the unknow. Different doesn't mean dangerous or scary, it's simply an opportunity to learn something new about yourself or the world.
All that is gold does not glitter,
Not all who wander are lost;
The old that is strong does not wither,
Deep roots are not reached by the frost.
I'd like to think that these past year has given me some of these roots; a grounded sense of who I am and a continually renewing curiosity and interest in the unknown. Even though I'll admit that I don't know exactly what I'm going to do next, I do know that I now have a clear sense of my values, my priorities, and the what I want my life to look like. And if sondering for a year has taught me anything, it's that everything will fall perfectly into place.