Travel Is Love – Slow Down, Reevaluate and Choose Consciously
I’ve remembered when few years ago I’ve needed a medicine and one coworker suggested the pharmacy next door. Being there I’ve said to the lady:
– It’s so good you opened right next to our office. The lady’s answer came as a big surprise:
– We’ve opened more than a year ago …
Ups… All this time and I haven’t noticed it …
Few years back, my day would start like this: I would wake up after hitting snooze 3 times, turn on my phone and be bombarded by e-mails, have breakfast in a hurry while reading my e-mails, be 10 minutes late for work, take few calls on my way, get at the office, check my appointments and start my day.
10 years that I truly enjoyed.
With having lunch while waiting at the traffic lights, with my phone on speaker and a map in the right seat, with Christmas parties, with a desk full of papers and 50 to 100 calls each day, with team-buildings and regional meetings,
with the best and most intelligent boss I could ever have and with great and funny coworkers that you loved having around. With a 35-minute drive from Bucharest to Târgoviște instead of the usual one hour.
With the challenge of finding a parking spot, followed by the satisfaction of a smartly negotiated meeting and with the disappointment of one when the client would not leave our competitor.
It was definitely a great time in my life, one of the best, up until one point when I found myself checking travel pictures more than working. This led to an imbalance in me that was difficult to handle.
I felt disconnected, I felt like I was missing something that I couldn’t quite put my finger on.
All this crazy way of living become like a veil between me and reality.
At that point, I’ve asked myself one question, that made the situation crystal clear, triggering everything that was to come: If I die tomorrow, would I be happy with the life I’m living right now?
Then I decided to quit my job at one of the top companies in Romania, I left behind my beloved colleagues, my beloved boss, my beloved car and my beloved big salary.
It wasn’t easy, it was awfully sad, to such an extent that the next two weeks after deciding to quit I cried every single day…
Then I started traveling
This is just me showing off in US.
But after all these touristy things, I felt like switching to a different kind of travelling experience and decided to go to India.
And when I realized India was half a Planet away from where I was at that moment, I was only glad.
Truth be told, nothing gets you ready for your trip to India, no documentary, no video, no pictures, nothing!
Take all you get from books, from documentaries, or from movies, multiply it by 100 and you’ll get India. Maybe
Went there to an authentic Yoga school in Rishikesh, the international capital of Yoga, where the schedule was thought:
Woke up call at 5:30 am, had herbal tea followed by hours of breathing, asanas and meditation practice, philosophy and anatomy till 7 pm.
India has got me in love head over heels.
After leaving India, I realized that parts of me will never be the same and I felt capable to travel anywhere in the world.
In my travels, one country led to the other. My love for meditation made me want to go deeper in this wonderful practice and decided to go to Malaysia to a silent retreat.
Malaysia is another country where I left a part of my heart. You’ll see why.
Few minutes after I got off the bus and set my foot in the center of Kuala Lumpur, as I was looking for accommodation I heard a voice:
‘You come, Madame’, a man said to me.
‘I want to show you something – I know a very good place for you to stay.’ It was a skinny, shirtless man, with dark skin and a hair longer than mine.
I don’t know… it was a mixture of my intuition and the sincere look in his eyes that made me end up following a complete stranger across a completely new city, in a country I haven’t visited before.
The place was as good as he promised.
I left my backpack and went outside to explore the city. Few hours later, as I was wandering in China Town, I heard someone calling my name. That was nearly impossible, since no one would know me there.
– Come with me, he said, we have a party going on.
– I could roll with that, I said and, once again, I let myself in the hands of the unknown, and I ended up here
That was my first day in KL, from a complete stranger, I ended up in the middle of an authentic just-around-the-corner Malay party.
The next day, leaving the party behind, I set off to my second meditation school, a place like no other I have ever seen or heard about, in the middle of a palm plantation, where Toucan birds, iguanas and other animals would pass by students as if they were invisible in the midst of all that silence and stillness. I was charmed.
For those who don’t know, a silent retreat, it’s a place where you’ll leave all means of communication with the outside world at the entrance – no phones or other electronic devices, letters, journals, books or visitors are allowed.
This is a place where everybody uses the Noble Silence, the silence of body, speech, and mind. Any form of communication with fellow students, whether by gestures, sign language, or written notes, is not allowed. You start the day at 4am and end at 9:30 pm, youhave 10 days of silence, of simple life, without any distraction or any kind of interaction.
Another life changing experience, and if I were to quote my teacher I would say “a real brain surgery”
For months and months, I traveled from one place to another, from bed to bed, from person to person, from one means of transport to another, from dinner to dinner, always in a different place with different people from different countries.
I have around 150 000 travel pictures. Obviously, it was difficult for me to make a fair selection, so I chose just a few.
I would blend so well with the locals that tourists would ask me if I’m living there.
After my Asia trip, as I was living for two months in a hostel in Istanbul, I felt the urge to visit Iran. I called my parents to tell them about my plan, my amazing super lovely mom asked me: Don’t you have a tv? Haven’t you seen that planes are crushing down every week?
So I left for Iran..
Iran is not an easy country to visit, you can’t use their ATM machines, you can’t always openly and directly speak to men, you can’t find hotels on the main booking sites, you need to keep your head, hair and the whole body covered, visa is not always easy to get, many places are exclusively male, all was foggy to me.
Now that you know me already you’ll guess I didn’t take the well-traveled path, so I headed to Khur, a less known village in the middle of the desert.
I spent three incredible days there, with Rohab as the best guide you could get in the whole desert.
He took us to sleep under the open sky and woke up with the sun rising in our face, as the camels were passing by.
He would tell us bedtime stories about camels: I found out that camels never forget where they were born. That is why the camels brought from Afghanistan are kept locked otherwise they naturally just start their journey back home. And although they are locked and can’t go back home, they still sleep with their heads pointed in the Afghan direction …
And when in the middle of the desert you find a couple of lovely Australians, you feel like home.
When you’re a traveler, you’ll learn about the world, you’ll learn about yourself and this is how you’ll find the things that you truly care about, because that will be the source of the greatest change you’ll make, your values won’t be the same. What happens when you’re travelling is so powerful that can change the course of your life.
Nowadays, my morning looks like this:
Wake up, one snooze only, dress and go jogging in the nearby park, then spend some time meditating, have a big delicious breakfast and only afterwards turn on my phone and dive into the daily challenges.
When I jog in the morning, I breathe the fresh air, look at the sun rising, at the fog lifting over the lake, and all my senses enjoy this activity. In that moment, there’s no 2 o’clock meeting to worry about, no unsolved situation or unpaid bill or tiers to be changed, I don’t think of the unavoidable changes that the day might bring. I simply trust that when that moment will come I’ll solve each of them just as nicely as my morning was, using the strength and serenity I collected from my morning routine.
Before, I was acting faster and not always better. Now, I first observe my thoughts and the way they make me feel, and instead of saying “I’m nervous” I say to myself “I observe I’m nervous”.
There’s a time and space between those two approaches, and it is in that time and space that I can stay calm and act with more care and awareness for me and for the people around me.
Now I’m more aware of everything that happens around me, I’m no longer stuck in my thoughts. If I happen to pass by a person or an animal in need, I stop and help, even with the price of my time and energy.
Before, remember? I wouldn’t even see the Pharmacy I was telling you about at the beginning of my speech.
You’re born and then you die, that is something you can not control.
But in between these two moments you can choose to do anything you want.
Choose this anything with courage and awareness. I truly believe that courage doesn’t mean to not be afraid, courage means to be scared and yet still go for it.
I also believe that living in the moment, consciously experiencing what is happening in the now, this is the essence of a well-lived life. Our awareness creates our world.
[ External circumstances cannot create lasting happiness – the right state of mind can.]
No need to travel the world to become more aware, you can start where you are.
So, next time when you’ll have your lunch at your desk, working while eating, thinking you’ll gain some time and you’ll get more work done, remember that you’re more important than your job. You deserve to enjoy your food, to have one bite at a time. And don’t feel guilty about it, it’s a good time investment.
Simply engage in your activity without attaching thoughts or worries to it, enjoy the quiet of a lunch break and every bite of your delicious food.
Take the time to live your life, because the best time of your life is now!