Has your status quo got you nailed to the cross you call your life? That life you created as you followed a normal path of growing up, getting an education and finding a career? If you love your life just as it is now and feel you’ve created the canvas on which you’re expressing yourself fully then that’s wonderful. But what if you actually feel like you’ve created a monster which needs to be continuously fed by doing stuff you don’t truly feel passionate about, and that it may be all too late to create something new and fresh, something more wholly the work of art that is you in all your glorious uniqueness?
Let’s backtrack a moment. It’s been exciting to watch and experience our technological progression. Men on the moon! Probes on Mars! Not to mention light, heat and water at the flick of a switch as well as instant global communication. Surely it can’t be long until we can leap in to a wormhole and have the life we always dreamed about… but in the meantime our convenient life can actually be disempowering. In the ‘old’ days we were responsible for our own heating, lighting, food, water and sometimes even in the building of our own shelter. We lived according to the rhythms of the day and the seasons. We may have been poor in hard cash but we were rich in the wisdom of staying alive, and the ways of the natural world. Between our community we knew how to hunt and kill our food, how to forage and how to light fire. We had an innate understanding of the weather, points of the compass, and the healing properties of plants. The world outside our door was closer and more known to us. We had a bond with nature much like the Native Americans and Aborigines have when not weighed down by the stress of modern life.
But on the whole these days we’re sheltered from most of that. We may be responsible for earning the cash to keep all our needs met but if our entire social infrastructure disappeared over night, how would each one of us fare? Would we know how to keep warm, how to find food, how to self-medicate, how to ask for help… and who would we turn to that knows the things we don’t? And what if we’re in a relationship and we’re not the breadwinner…how might we feel then? More disempowered?
Through the way we live and the way we’ve been educated we’re divorced from nature and therefore from our true selves – no wonder underneath all our masks there is a layer of anxiety and fear…. we are totally dependent on systems governed and controlled by others who don’t appear to give a toss for the individual, as the infamous ‘bottom line’ is their master. We’re also taught that to succeed you have to be better than others, more effective, which in turn instils a non-collaborative way of being. We’re also taught that life is like that – it is after all the survival of the fittest. Only now are we beginning to understand this is a myth.
So what do we do? Dump the monster and go and live in a yurt in the wilds of nowhere and learn for ourselves?
I think that’s a great idea – after all I’m doing just that. But I’m coming to understand that there are other ways too. Take travel as an example, particularly spiritual travel, and particularly with a group of like-hearted individuals. This has the potential to alter the balance of our sense of confidence. What we ideally want is an authentic confidence in who we are, not some overblown confidence in how great we are at handling the bulls and bears of the stock market.
Amongst tribal people they still have initiation ceremonies to transform youths to adults. Usually these youngsters have to foster courage to perform a rite of passage. Often this includes time in wilderness, or something akin to this. According to Colin Campbell without these experiences in the wild where our mettle is tested we remain like children, at best adolescents. We are unable to access our deeper wisdom and shift in to maturity. What impact does this have on our current leaders? And what ripple down effect does this have on those of us who are being led?
Fascinatingly, George Monbiot, in his profound book Feral, says that during the pioneering days in the USA, Native American children who were held captive in ‘white’ settlements always wanted to go back to their families but ‘white’ children held captive in Native American camps almost always wanted to remain there given the opportunity. In fact George himself spent time with a young Masai warrior in Kenya as he was about to go through his own rite of passage to manhood, and admits to an envy of this young mans life. There is a lot to be said for being ‘at one’ with the world around us, knowing we each have the ability to survive and thrive without the accoutrements of this modern ‘civilised’ society.
But where does travel come in to this equation? Could it be a version of a rite of passage in the wilderness? Maybe to a degree, depending on the travelling you throw yourself in to. You see travelling can easily take us beyond our comfort zone. Of course if we choose to stay in our ‘known’ by lying in the sun among people speaking our own language and catering for us with our own food, it won’t have the same impact. But go to a different culture, explore a whole new terrain, do things you’ve never done before, with people you’ve never met and suddenly you are stretched beyond who you were before. The more unusual the journey the greater the stretch. The more ‘you’ you’ll discover.
If you choose solo travelling you’ll learn an extraordinary amount about yourself. You’ll come home with far more than great stories. You’ll know you can handle new situations, new places, new people and the unexpected. Your sense of liberation will be powerfully expanded. If you choose to travel with a group you’ll have a host of different experiences under your belt. If your passions don’t match with your friends and family you get the chance to explore places with other similarly impassioned people, making new friends for life, and can journey with the best of guides at an affordable price showing you the underbelly of places you may have only ever dreamed of experiencing up close. And when challenge is involved, whether that’s dealing with the altitude up at the worlds highest lake in Peru, or hiking up to Everest Base Camp or taking an ancient sacred plant medicine in the Amazon Jungle, having a group around you just illustrates the beautiful bond which can develop when we’re authentic with each other.
Travelling gives us a powerful opportunity to regain much of ourselves we’ve lost through our day to day lives. Not only can we discover a stronger, more adaptable, wiser us, we may also discover we’re more of a leader or supporter than we ever realised. Travelling through extraordinary sacred places, both man made and natural, can open us up a deeper relationship with our own intuition and imagination. Our creativity can be magnified, our past passions may re-emerge like a phoenix, and our hearts fill like fat-bellied spinnakers in front of a bellowing wind.
Taking time out from the bill-paying, TV watching, internet-addiction, workaholic life-style many of us believe life is all about gives us the chance to try out a few different perspectives. Not only will we become whole-ier, our lives will become far more multi-dimensional, and life will never be the same again.
If you’d love to explore the spiritual and sacred tours we offer here at Outer Travels Inner Journeys you can find an overview here: Tours and Retreats