All Winter I have mused to myself on WHAT LASTS. What are the bits and pieces of life that endure through time? What creates cultures? And when we examine ourselves, our beliefs and our ways of being, what does that which lasts have to do with healing?
What is culture, and what is its role in shaping how we live, how we care for ourselves, how we view our health and wellness?
Going to Europe and spending time in places where the old, the super old, and the new all co-exist is something that has always turned my thinking wheels. Maybe this is where my dislike of false binaries comes from–the spectrum is very real in a place where everything is so clearly built on many pasts, figuratively and literally.
Travel is also my preferred way to stress the organism a little, take advantage of the brain’s capacity for neuroplasticity. (this will be its own post!)
It gives me time for my favorite wellness-supporting outlet, wandering around noticing things.
And it’s an opportunity for me to explore my personal roots and history.
It interests me that we have cultural ideas of what history is, and often that is found in books and museums, both of which I do value. But being immersed in it, we can see history in tiny doors and old stones, torn fabric taken form a garbage pile, words and values, songs and soil, human faces and their body mechanics, cemeteries and dog breeds, bread ovens and terrine pans. I see the history of symbols that we recognize, animals and plants represented in art of nearly every type. There is history in every atom and cell, the seed banks and Sycamores.
And each of these has a hand in it, one or many, each stone was chipped off a larger stone, moved, stacked.
When we get close we see the marks of an ancient chisel, the strokes of a now-dust paintbrush, the flakes of gold leaf.
Not only does this give us a feeling for history, but potentially points to how we ARE history. Our hands’ work is creating tomorrow’s mysterious chisel marks. It’s easy to lose touch with how tangible the world we are creating will be for our great-grandchildren.
But the stones we stack today will feel the foot of tomorrow.
Travel also makes me ask what is it that humans aspire to, what is all of this for? The timelessness of certain impulses, towards creation, towards seeking beauty, towards release, escape, praise, communication and expression makes me feel like these are an important part of human wellness.
And really, there is all of this thinking. There are all of these ideas. But why do I really travel? It’s the food.
Bt, ultimately, what I love best is getting outside of myself. Getting uncomfortable and lost. Being forced to navigate alone, from streets to language to culture. Navigate is a word that comes up for me a lot, because it connects me to my roots, generation after generation of people who literally navigated their ways across the planet and the sea, as a job or as a way to get around, and it’s a skill I hold dear.
Navigation is a skill we ignore at our own risk, as i believe it may contribute to our own wellness as culture and as individuals.
Wherever we travel, whether it is a walk around your block or a journey to a far-off land, the spirit of travel is always available to us, if we are open. Inquiry. Appreciation. Immersion. No cathedral is more wonderful than any other, and no culture is more important than another. But the opportunities afforded by a traveler’s approach are many, and lasting.