Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Lose the Map

Planning is not my thing, and my capacity for directional intelligence is severely lacking. Yet I still travel. In fact, I think that having those shortcomings has enabled me to be a more in- tune traveler. Not having a plan means that I don't have anywhere to be at any given time, and knowing that I will undoubtedly get lost at some point during a day means that I am free to wander without fear. It takes a lot of pressure off. 

Tossing plans to the wind and deciding not to take a day trip to Vienna, instead I took a train to Znojmo. It is the last stop on the local train line in this area. Instead of the hassle of changing trains and traveling for hours only to get to a city just for the sake of it being Vienna, I opted for a direct route that clickety-clacked through vineyards still bare from the winter. I watched rabbits hop away from the tracks at breakneck speeds. And I watched as the tiny train pulled into one of the most picturesque towns I have ever seen and never heard of. 

Without a map I found my way through the empty streets of the town, past a tiny Easter market in the main square selling flowers. I followed the signs to St. Nicholas Church and a deserted castle. Walking through the castle walls with no one to stop me, I emerged alone to stare at the river and the miniature multi-colored houses dotting the hillside. 

I continued to wander without a map, without a plan. I passed signs, some of which were in English informing me of trails into the forest and to the top of the mountain straight ahead. Again I wandered, guided by myself and the colored boxes painted on the trees leading the way somewhere. The somewhere never mattered much; it was all about the walk itself. The whole day spent in the moment, unsure of what was around each bend in the trail. Even though from far away the destination could be seen very clearly. 

Life is like that. Sometimes we are so focused on the map and the destination that we forget to wander, to explore, to look up. The best moments happen when there is no map, no plan. When we are guided by ourselves, there is no wrong, only different options. 

So lose the map, get lost, and enjoy the walk. 

Monday, March 23, 2015

Choosing a Path

This weekend I found myself in Amsterdam again after being away for over a year and a half. I have been here since Saturday, and I have not done any of the normal tourist route. Instead, I have caught up with friends, shared meals, and felt the love from my international community surrounded by a beautiful city. It also helped that the sun was out.

Some themes emerged over the past couple of days that have resonated with my decisions over the past couple of years and most recently planing my trip to India...

Being honest with myself (even if it's not what I want to hear)

Following the path of my passion (figuring out what that passion is)

Determining what it is that I want most in life (and then finding a way to fulfill it)

And some hard questions...

Does postponing the next step in life assist in cementing the decision itself?

Is it better to jump first and ask questions later?

How much of what we choose to do is motivated by fear?

Are we allowing others to make our decisions for us?

                                                                               ...questions with no easy answers.

Our choices define who we are. So even if it's the more arduous path, one that is not paved and well lit, I'm going to take it because I would rather fail forward than never move forward at all.

Friday, March 13, 2015

This Blog has an Identity Crisis

It's true! This little blog of mine has been through so many changes since I started writing it about six years ago. It started out as a way to communicate and share my love of travel with my students while I was in Australia. Since then it has morphed into a vessel for story telling, recommendations, life updates, and various other ways to comment on the where and when of my life. One thing has stayed constant, however, and that is travel.

Keeping with that idea and the roller coaster like history of this communication tool, I am changing it again. This time, I will be sharing the ups and downs, ins and outs of my experteer** trip to India.

What's the big change? I'm not sure yet. In the immediate future I'll be sharing my journey to get to India including things like vaccinations, visas, and the project planning process. When I get there I hope to share successes, challenges, and local life. If nothing else, it will be a way to document a process in progress.

And that process begins now... join me!

**Experteer is a word used by Moving Worlds to go beyond volunteering or in many cases voluntourism. Experteer is a combination of expert and volunteer. I will be pairing my knowledge and experience in education as a volunteer. It's so simple, and yet it has the potential to be a very powerful thing.