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.