Irrational Fear Week – Day 3: Travel
Each day this week I’ll write a post about a fear that I used to have (some I still have) and how I have dealt with it in order illuminate some of the strange things we allow to get in between us and living a full and productive life.
I love to experience new places. I am also scared of new places. Being a creature of habit can have its downside.
I sometimes think I’ve seen too many action movies. I often imagine that I’ll be robbed or have something bad happen to me if I go to a strange place. Call it an overactive imagination. I’ve actually been robbed while travelling. It was quite skillfully done, without my finding out till later. I can honestly say, that while not great, being robbed is not the worst thing in the world. Still, my fear of travel has reared its head from time to time.
My lowest point in this regard came during a trip to Europe. I had just quit my job. Was just out of a relationship. And 9-11 had happened less than a month before. My personal life and the world around me was changing. I had booked this trip and flown across the Atlantic by myself. Now I was sitting in a strange hotel room in Madrid. Tired. Jet lagged. And I had no idea what I was doing there. All of those things finally caught up with me. I sat there and cried.
Of course, those emotions weren’t just about being alone in a strange place. The fear of new places is really the fear of the unknown. And I was facing a whole lot of unknown at that time of my life. A lot of which I did not choose. Life got better. The next day, I went out into that strange city and did my best to soak up every sight and sound. I had booked that trip because I felt, up until that point in my life, I had been limiting myself. Too much work. Too little play. Not enough new. And there was too much I had yet to see. By the end of that month-long, solo trip, I was happy to roll into any town and see what it had to offer.
New places energize me now, more than ever before. I am so much happier during and after experiencing someplace new that I immediately get the urge to travel again soon. It’s addicting. These feelings have been reinvigorated by my wife, who is always on the move, always finding someplace new to go and see, and she’s usually happy to take me along with her. Traveling with a partner or traveling alone—there isn’t any reason not to do it, if it moves you.
One of my favorite authors said it better than I ever could:
“Often I feel I go to some distant region of the world to be reminded of who I really am. There is no mystery about why this should be so. Stripped of your ordinary surroundings, your friends, your daily routines, your refrigerator full of your food, your closet full of your clothes—with all this taken away, you are forced into direct experience. Such direct experience inevitably makes you aware of who it is that is having the experience. That’s not always comfortable, but it is always invigorating.”
– Michael Crichton, Travels
This is why I travel.
See you tomorrow for Day 4!