I’m writing this on a plane bound for Europe. I used miles to pay for this flight, so it cost me only around $100 in fees. I’m flying Coach (though I’ll be testing my own advice when I fly Business Class on the way home) and am sitting far enough back that I can see every wiggle of the plane’s wings.
Actually, I have now closed the window, so I can’t see that anymore.
How can I not feel grateful? I’m traveling to a new country, exploring with friends, going on an adventure that will get me out of my comfort zone, teach me new things, and hopefully make me grow as a person. Travel, as I never grow tired of saying, teaches you about the world when things go well, and teaches you about yourself when things go bad.
But more than any feelings of personal adventure, why am I taking the time and money and energy to head off to a new place, probably exhausting me in the process? I’m flying for pleasure, not business, so there is no one forcing me to go. Why go? And why go now?
The short answer is: I go because I can.
In general, I’m not always a fan of “carpe diem” living. I think we should seize the day, sure, but with the awareness that tomorrow is likely to come. That’s why I don’t recommend that people up and quit their job to climb Everest or whatever their specific dream is, unless they’ve figured out what they plan to do the day after they come down the mountain.
But at the same time, we need to be aware that even though we plan for tomorrow, we must not lose sight of how we are also living today. Right now. It’s a balancing act.
Unlikely situations demand action
Also, I think there are some confluences of circumstances that may only happen once in your life. You may only get one chance to join that program; you may only have one chance to audition for that show; you may only have one chance to go up to and say hi to that person. So when these confluences come together, it’s important to be aware of them and, if possible, jump on them.
For me, I am in the happy position of being able to travel. I have the money, I have the time, I have my health, and I have the ability to do this while still keeping my job.
But even more than that, I have the chance to travel with my friends. Which ends up being a whole other more limited type of confluence. To be in the position to do this is rare; to know other people who can do this as well is rarer; and rarer still is the ability to match the timing of all involved. When will this happen again?
Now, that’s not to say that it can’t or won’t happen again, but there is a mix of favorable circumstances and unlikely circumstances that makes the situation irresistible. I go because I can.
Selfless selfishness or, nothing special about me
I also go since others cannot.
Many people that I know are not able to travel like this, even though they would like to, either because of money, time, job, health, or other constraints. And while I know that at our lesser moments we tend to wish ill on those who have what we do not, I honestly feel that many people can enjoy others’ experiences vicariously. We listen to stories of people doing extraordinary things, things we could or would never do, and derive insight and pleasure from the tales.
Not that I feel like travel is an extraordinary thing, but to some people, it is. I fairly often strike up conversations with people who have never been out of the country, for one reason or another.
When I’m able to mention to these domestically-bound people a story from one of my travels, I’m usually not met with obvious envy. Now, some might say that regaling folks who have not traveled with stories of travel seems cruel. I disagree, and this is the other reason why I go: Because I can show others that it’s possible.
I can’t take credit for all of my successes. I was born into favorable times in a favorable part of the world, with favorable circumstances.
That said, I started from where I was and bettered myself whenever possible. I took advantage of every advantage. I reject the idea that I’m some kind of special case. I just have always prioritized it in my life, by saying no to some things, and by waiting until it was feasible.
I believe you can do this too, if you want. I want to show you that it’s possible. I can’t help with the time part, the health part, or the favorable circumstances, but I can help with the money part. And I can show you how intentionality can lead to success. If you want something, then you can go for it. If you want to travel, then figure out how.
I go because I can. You can too.
But enough about me: Do you prioritize travel in your life? Why or why not?