WHEN I think about my travels, the word that comes to my mind is Expansion. I feel a strong emotional contrast between travelling and being at home. I feel the difference in my body.
Travel feels like openness, possibility, exploration, newness, surprises, uncertainty.
In my body it feels light, expressive, energetic.
Home feels like comfort, stagnation, repetition, routine.
In my body it feels tight, heavy, dull.
These feelings are not the fault of the place we live or thanks to the places we travel.
If someone else visits my city or my neighbourhood for the first time, they will experience everything I experience daily as new. Fresh. Vibrant. Unexpected. Expansion.
A few years ago, I was living in Europe. I remember walking along the rock beach in Nice on a bright sunny day. I felt strong, capable, and proud of myself for being in that city solo. I called my parents and shared my experience with them. I remember feeling a high when I told them about it on the phone. When I think of Nice I feel warm; I see yellows and blues. I hear laughter, waves, and silence at the same time. I feel at peace.
Basking in those feelings on the beach, I considered not returning home to Toronto. I was coming to the end of a teaching contract and hadn’t decided what was next. Instead, I thought, I could get a job in a hostel in Nice and stay for a while. I had met so many people who were travelling full time — teaching, volunteering, or working in service jobs. I knew it was possible.
I also felt that the way I was living was suspending time — not quite living my real life, and partially delaying it. At that moment I knew I wouldn’t allow myself to stay in Europe; there were too many things I had to get started on. My career. My ‘real life’. Or something like that.
So I came home.
And I’ve been home for three years.
In this time, I’ve lived in one city. I have noticed how different it feels, living in one place. Being home and not travelling. And I know why.
I’ve realized it’s because we make different choices when we travel than we do at home. We behave differently.
When we travel, we push ourselves. We say yes when we would normally say no. We walk more, eat more, take pictures more; we live in the moment more. At home in our routine, we stare at our phones on transit, we avoid eye contact, we walk the same streets each day, we go home in the evening, we do our hobby on Thursdays.
It feels the same each week because it is.
If we chose, we could adopt a travelling mindset at home. We could live here like we live out there. If we did, would it change everything? Would I take the bus to a new part of my city and spend the day walking around? Would I strike up conversations with people in my local bar? Would I spend more time looking at the skyline and appreciating this experience? Would I stop more often and look around?
I think I would.
I would walk more, eat more, take pictures more, and live in the moment more. I would document every day like it was unique and new. I would plan which neighbourhood to explore next.
We can start today by making even one different choice.
Let’s make home a place we travel too.
Want to join me?
This post was originally published on Medium.