Travel is an important component to the creative process and to my mental well-being. I have tried to fight off this element of whimsy, tomfoolery, and daydreaming for long periods of time.
One example that comes to mind was when my boyfriend and I had the chance to travel with our friends to New Zealand during Christmas 2014. We declined to join. At the time, my intuition told me to be reasonable, keep socking away my cash, and work through the Christmas holidays so I can get a jump start to the new fiscal year at work. While work colleagues were running off on their vacations, I stayed home and dutifully worked. It was the responsible thing to quietly work at my desk and plan out the next year. It was good to get my career on the right track. Then, and only then, do I really deserve to go on vacation.
I convinced myself to not be bitter. Unfortunately, due to my work schedule, I felt that I could never find the right time. I kept telling myself be reasonable. I can’t go on vacation. I didn’t really deserve to go on a vacation. I was lucky to get every other Friday off and I didn’t have to work so many evenings and weekends. This is a good thing. This was the good enough job so I had time to do other projects (teaching yoga & planning workshops). Be patient. Life is good….
In April 2015, Jacob and I went to San Francisco for my birthday. It was our second time in NorCal, and the trip was truly magical. The environment just looks different from what I am used to seeing back home in Texas. The climate during our trip was so pleasant we didn’t realized that we walked 13 miles one day. Having time to wander around Muir Woods, smell eucalyptus leaves, and listen to Otis Redding’s song “Sittin on a Dock by the Bay” in Sausalito was the peace and happiness I was looking for in my day. Maybe it was the exposure to the salty air as I stared at the expanse of the Pacific Ocean or maybe it was trying to piece together the remains of the Sutro Baths or perhaps it was taking the time to sip my lightening bolt of an espresso in North Beach…. I don’t know. San Francisco has a “je ne sais quoi.”
When I returned, the joy dissipated. Yes, it’s normal to have a sense of malaise when returning from vacation. But this time it was profoundly different. It was a significant wave of anxiety, fear, and frustration. The ocean views, long walks, and ferry rides were replaced with a sense of heaviness, darkness, and sadness. Vacations are a chance to recharge my batteries, but this time I felt even more depleted. I realized that I was in a life situation where no matter how much knowledge, experience, and effort I put into it for whatever reason it was not going to work out.
As an achievement junkie that’s a realization I hate to admit. I hate quitting and walking away. When I face problems, I am more likely to force myself to figure out a new way or put more time into fixing the problem. I will over-work a problem before calling it quits.
So how is it possible to recover my happiness and peace during a four day weekend? And yet how can this tranquility easily unravel when the vacation is over? My brief visit to California taught me something important: I’m responsible for my happiness and well-being. It made me question past decisions: Why do I put off trips, excursions or artist dates? Why am I so stingy and unkind to myself? What’s so horrible about going on a vacation? What am I afraid of?
Perhaps, I was afraid that I’d actually have fun and be happy for once. The harsh reality was I believed that I didn’t deserve a vacation.
When we travel, we open ourselves up to a lot of different experiences and it helps us create new shifts and opportunities. For me, that trip to California taught me that it’s okay to relax and be kind to myself. I thought true success could be derived by being harsh and tough on myself when it’s the exact opposite. By being kind to myself, I am so much stronger.