We all get excited when we plan a holiday. We choose our destination, we plan the trip, we book the tickets and we pack our bags. All with an excitement that’s infectious and heady! We picture the fun we’re going to have, the places we will see, the pictures that we will click and share back home with family and friends. It’s one more place on the world map that has seen our footprints, one more speck on the vast canvas of the globe that our minds have experienced.
One of the pleasures of travel is the anticipation. Counting the days when we can ‘take off’ – leaving our routines and regulations and roles behind. Our minds take off, unfettered by schedules and systems, to different planes, where we touch upon our true self and feel revived. We think about the new people we’ll meet, the cuisine that our taste buds will relish for the first time, and the lazy, unhurried way we will spend our days. Time on a holiday, stretches, lingers, waltzes and waits.
Our bags are taken out of the loft and dusted. Opened with a flourish for their emptiness is exhilarating. Their hollow contours are waiting to be filled with memories and souvenirs, magical times and friends, for they will be touching the sands of a different space, coming back carrying the smells of a different land.
All that our bodies and minds will need for the next few days are contained within a couple of sturdy suitcases, all the belongings that will take care of us while we are away.
The morning arrives, early and yet, not too fast! As the sun’s rays smudge the horizon with orange hues, and tinge the clouds that are heavy with rain, our alarm clock pierces the silence and opens the floodgates of excitement.
Children jump out of beds at this unearthly hour with an enthusiasm normally reserved for a pizza or a game of football. The sleep scampers out of their eyes with the haste of a rabbit on hearing a shotgun. Everyone gets ready without promptings, naggings and procrastinations.
The day looks different. It feels different. Yes, it is different!
Depending on the destination, we get into our chosen vehicles.
If it is a car, we roll down our windows and let the holiday breeze wash over us. Carefully chosen music is pushed into the stereo and from this time on, all these songs will remind us of this holiday. A year later when the first strains of this song opens on the airwaves, our mind will return to our holiday, its feel and its flow. That time and this song have forever become intertwined.
The city recedes outside our car pane. The roads open wide and inviting. We hit the expressway as the sun slips past the horizon and into the sky and the day begins for all the people we’ve left behind.
But for us, it is a free day, a day that stands poised on a new place, a day that will usher in a ‘changed’ us, for when we return, we will have altered in slight imperceptible ways, so that the self that we leave behind won’t be the self that will come home. We will have stretched our horizons, cultivated our minds and traversed a different road, that will create a shift in some small way in our hearts and minds.
We don’t know how this road takes us, but we know that it will lead us to our destination. It meanders and melts with the landscape. Villages, trees, flowers, shrines, mountains, lakes and birds swoop by. We stop when the beauty overwhelms us, to take a photograph, knowing that no picture can truly do justice to the way the scene has unfolded before our eyes, the way the winds blow and encase the moment, the way the light dances on the edge of that time frame. A picture will capture the scene, not the moment. The moment you take in your mind as you sit back in the car and you revisit it whenever you want to feel the same way again.
Isn’t it true then, that traveling is more about the journey than the destination. More about the experiences you have, than the places you visit. More about the feelings that arise within you, than the touristy things you do. More about broadening your inner landscape by the spaces and sounds that surround you.