I am not the same, having seen the moon shine on the other side of the world. – Mary Anne Radmacher
Not too many people enjoy coming back from vacation. Unpacking and doing laundry is nowhere near as exciting as the preparation and anticipation for a big trip. And then, of course, there is the fact that you actually have to go back to work, and to your ordinary, everyday life.
I returned yesterday from a 15-day trip to Italy and France. I’ve got about 36 more hours before I have to make a ‘re-entry’ into my normal life.
This was my third vacation to Europe. As I’ve said before, I have to go all the way across the pond to really de-compress. It works for me; at the turn of the second week away is when I really begin to feel relaxed.
But I’ve found that there is another hidden benefit to my trips. I call it the Re-Entry Glow.
For some time after I return, I have a different mindset. I walk around with what could only be called a very nice emotional buzz. The things that normally irritate me lose their sting. A messy house, a pile of bills, or a stressed-out boss roll off my back like water. A difficult work problem doesn’t phase me. I savor even my ordinary actions – driving my car again, making my bed, even a shower in my own bathroom. They all take on a strikingly different and very pleasant tenor.
To me, this is the hidden and extremely valuable gift of extended travel.
Change your life, change your scenery, change your perspective, and you change your mind.
The writer Bill Bryson said, “The greatest reward and luxury of travel is to be able to experience everyday things as if for the first time, to be in a position in which almost nothing is so familiar it is taken for granted.”
For two weeks I saw and experienced life differently.
I sat down to eat breakfast, instead of drinking a protein shake while on a conference call. I drank a cappuccino, savored croissants, jam and fresh-squeezed orange juice. I walked miles each day, as a pieton (pedestrian) instead of spending nine hours chained to my desk. I took a two-hour lunch, with wine, watching the world go by at outdoor cafes. I filled my head with 2,000 years of history and was mesmerized by the artistry and sheer determination of mankind. I listened to the melody of foreign languages, used new words for ordinary things.
I strolled through beautiful parks or sat in an Italian piazza or a French place and watched the locals live their everyday life.
Boys playing soccer in the square beside a 12th century church; young children riding their scooters; artists sitting cross legged with their charcoal and paints; an elderly couple resting in companionable silence on a park bench; lovers kissing on a street corner.
Travel allows me to see differently. And seeing differently makes me think and feel in a new way.
Mark Twain had a lot to say about the value – and pitfalls – of travel. For Twain, extended travel could bring a more expansive, kinder view of the world and the people and things in it.
Travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry, and narrow-mindedness, and many of our people need it sorely on these accounts. Broad, wholesome, charitable views of men and things cannot be acquired by vegetating in one little corner of the earth all one’s lifetime. – Innocents Abroad
When I return from these trips, I seem to be blessed – at least for a while – with Twain’s more ‘’wholesome and charitable view ‘ of myself, my world and the people in it.
I love this post-travel, rose-colored glasses period. It’s worth every dollar I spent to make the trip.
I just wish it could last longer.
Here’s the rub: In the past, I have not been able to sustain this charitable and rose-colored bubble for very long. Within a week or two, the old world view comes crashing back to me. Before I know it, I am rushing headlong through each day, snapping at myself and others, getting caught up in the ridiculous trials and tribulations of daily life. I too quickly forget what it is like to savor the simple things, the beauty and wonder of life’s ordinary and extra-ordinary moments.
Last year the re-entry afterglow lasted about 7-10 glorious days. This year I’d like to figure out how to make it last much longer.
It’s a powerful but elusive feeling, this way of seeing and feeling the world, but I think it is the truly important stuff of life. It’s the secret sauce of happiness, and I don’t want to let it go.
If I can’t figure out how to make it last, I guess I just have to travel to Europe more than once a year.
We travel not to escape life, but for life not to escape us. – Anonymous