What Sitting Still Taught Me About Movement.
Life recently asked an interesting question of me: How do you keep moving when everything around you demands you stay put?
I’d been back home for just a couple of months when it all hit me — for the first time in years, I didn’t have any future travel plans, and honestly, I didn’t have a single travel-related desire. I started to wonder what travel had done to me, and I think there were a few days where I might have even cursed it.
Here I was, at my parents’ house in South Florida, with, yet again, another mindless bartending gig and an empty bank account. I was in a hole, and I wasn’t sure which way was up or if I even cared. How was I supposed to get on with life when travel had faded into an unrecognizable speck in the distance?
How could I possibly grow as a young woman when the highlight of my week consisted of fried food and crappy American beer with my parents and their friends? How could I express myself and navigate through this life without travel as my guide? What else was there?
I quickly realized I couldn’t continue to wallow in a hazy state of confusion and panic. I had to fill the void travel left with something equally as gratifying — a challenge with which I’d never been faced. Almost subconsciously, I turned to the other form of art I loved with such intensity: writing.
Since first committing to a blog about my adventures years ago, it had always gone hand-in-hand with travel for me. Recently, however, I’d let it get away from me. I had dozens of untold stories from jungles in South America to graffiti-lined streets in Australia, and yet I hadn’t written a word about it anywhere.
I wasn’t sure where or why our romance had fizzled, but I knew we deserved a second shot. Typical of me, I reached out my hand first and began to write every single day, even if only for twenty minutes. Writing responded immediately and graciously, and it wasn’t long before we were an item again.
Sparks flew, and much to my surprise, I was hit with a fresh perspective I unknowingly, but so desperately, needed.
If the past few years had taught me anything, it was that I was addicted to movement, and that it’s a perfectly healthy addiction. Movement is synonymous with travel, and it yields that sweet reward we all want a piece of: transformation.
While I may have spent most of the past five months being quite stagnant physically, I’ve not stopped mentally. I let writing and reading consume my days, and although it’s made me feel physically lazy, the trade-off has been well worth it.
Like an unfit body after the first week at a new gym, my brain was sore and lacked any real flexibility. After sticking with it for a few weeks, I started to notice the obvious changes taking place, at which point the activity only became more addictive — just like travel.
The soreness quickly wore off, and I began to crave the sweat and tears. And yeah, there were a lot of both. I knew transformation demanded a lot from our ducts and glands, so I pushed forward and trusted the process.
I took on a thirty-day writing challenge, which turned out to be the perfect distraction from the recently absent love of my life: travel. The very sight of the word makes my heart beat a little faster and my voice get a little louder.
It’s been a constant in my life for the past three years, but after returning home from my latest stint in Australia, life begged me stop for a minute. Out of energy and money, I had no choice but to comply. It’s proven to be one of the most challenging chapters yet, but the lessons have been generously abundant.
You see, as a thirty-something who’s used miles to measure success for so long, I was forced to find new metrics. More importantly, I had to redefine and rediscover movement, no longer exploring it from the comfort of an airplane at 35,000 feet.
Instead, I had to propel my mind into that same forward motion my body had been used to for several years. It was more foreign than any third-world nation I’d ever visited, and because of that, I learned.
I learned that I don’t always need my passport or backpack to grow. Books have been the maps that lead the way, while writing has replaced the overnight bus rides and dodgy boat trips. Ideas are the cities and towns that I now explore with childlike curiosity, and they colorfully dot my route, no matter how erratic it may seem.
Most importantly, I learned that travel does not have a monopoly on creativity. How badly I had misconceived that one. I found my creative self from the back porch of my parents’ home in the very state I was born in.
Much like the way we look back on photos years later only to realize it really was a great shot, I began to look at my past travels with more admirable eyes. Creative writing enabled me to move about freely and see things more favorably. A new perspective gave way to a more confident me, and thus, a transformed me.
I might not have racked up any colorful passport stamps or page-sized visas this summer, but I certainly moved.
Movement, as it turns out, isn’t always so obvious or literal, and that’s a lesson I learned only while staying in one place. I found great value in the stillness, something that I was never able to appreciate through years of constant travel and nomadic living.
Now that I’ve explored new landscapes in this creative vehicle, I get to return to travel by way of rickshaws and puddle jumpers as an improved woman. Suddenly, the air is laced with possibility, and even my own backyard feels magical again.
Emily Booth is a curious globetrotter and writer with an affinity for stories, airplanes and sketchy border crossings. She travels as a lifestyle, and shares her insights and mishaps on her blog, where she digs into the complexity of a seemingly glamorous way of living. When she’s not planning her next trip over an overpriced cup o’ joe, she can be found dabbling in photography or reading poetry, two of her latest endeavors. She believes a balanced life consists of equal parts exercise, laughter and tacos, and she dares you to challenge it. Next stop? A ski season in Breckenridge, Colorado.