Travel and the eureka moment

Over the last two weeks, my friend Lisa, also a fellow traveler, sent me a couple of links to articles about returning home after a long trip and the adjustment that one usually undergoes.  I was especially struck by this article where the author expresses dismay at not having experienced a “Eureka” moment where he suddenly feels like his life makes sense, or that he knows what his calling is.  Before I left on my trip, I too had hoped that the answers would come to me and that I would find something that might propel me forward in life.  And while I experienced some moments where I stumbled upon some nuggets of understanding, I unfortunately didn’t experience any kind of “Eureka” moment.

After being back and having time to process my time away, I’ve come to see that the expectation or hope that you’ll have some profound experience that will elicit the answers to your questions is unrealistic.  It’s also unfortunate that one would make long term travel plans with that expectation in mind.  Don’t get me wrong – I do believe that people can experience a moment of clarity while traveling that answers what they should pursue as a vocation in life, but I don’t think someone should expect that same outcome.

For me, traveling is no longer about finding THE answer.  Instead, it is an exercise in learning to let go.  To travel for any length of time, you’re required to let go of many things including your home, comfort, belongings, friends and family (for a time), security, etc.  And any notions of who you think you are will likely drift away as you undertake new adventures, meet new people and enjoy new experiences with the people and places that surround you.  You’ll likely let go of old grudges and regrets.  You’ll forgive yourself and the world around you for any misdeeds and misunderstandings.

And through letting go, you’ll free yourself from all the baggage that you had before and open yourself up to the possibilities of this world.  And through your new-found lightness, you’ll shed some of your fears and push yourself to try things that originally frightened you and held you back from living in the moment.  You will develop greater confidence in yourself and better understand how far and fast you can push yourself.  In the end, a clarity will settle upon you and notions will develop within you of what is possible.

And this is where I think the magic starts to happen.  You learn to embrace uncertainty and discomfort, for those are the things that help to propel us forward or to make big changes in our lives.  But it’s not a change that happens overnight, and it’s definitely not a “Eureka” moment.  Nor is it a destination where you finally know all that will make you happy or land you your dream job.  Instead is the realization that you’re living your best life now and that instead of having all the answers to life, the universe, and everything, you’ve learned to enjoy the positive moments in your life to their absolute fullest.  You’ll no longer try to rush those moments or keep yourself on a schedule, but instead you’ll start operating from your heart and making decisions based on what you feel you want.

It’s a commonly held belief that when traveling to the Galapagos Islands, that Charles Darwin was so influenced by the wildlife that he encountered there that he ultimately had a “Eureka” moment where he then developed his theories on evolution.  However, upon further research, it has been proven false and has been shown that he had actually been working on his theories for a substantial amount of time prior to his time in the Galapagos..

So being that answers typically materialize over a lengthy period of time, I’ve come to the realization that it’s more about appreciating and enjoying our lives to their fullest in-between the times where life may elicit those answers.  So, if you haven’t had a “Eureka” moment in your life, fear not – you’re living it right now.  The act of challenging yourself, having some adventures, and stepping out of your comfort zone will ultimately provide the answers that you seek and contribute to the life that you want.