I remember I was once told a story about the Buddha. When someone asked him, “What have you gained from meditation?” he took a moment to think and responded, “Nothing!” much to the bemusement of his followers. “But” he continued, “Let me tell you what I have lost: Depression, Anxiety, fear of old age and the fear of dying”.
This story really hit home for me, not just because I’m a meditation buff, but also because it applies to life when you travel.
You are always focused on what you can take when you travel, be it photographs or postcards or memories. The drive is to add more to your life.
It’s not often, though, that you take stock of what you have lost when you travel. What you shed. What disappears from your life as you move from one place to the next. And, no, not those sunglasses the weird guy might have taken from under your hostel pillow.
When I went to Peru at the end of 2015 I was running away from my problems. I’ll make no bones about. Every day was a reminder of what I didn’t like about my life. So, I shifted my location to hopefully find a new perspective.
While I was there I gained a lot: new friends, experiences, stories and even a new language. Heck, I could regale you for hours on end with that I gained while I was there.
But, what’s more important is what I lost.
I lost my dependancy on other people. I lost my neediness. I lost my desire to say yes when I really wanted to scream no. I lost my fear of confined spaces. I lost my fear of talking to strangers.
I can hear voices saying now, “But, James, didn’t you just gain independence and strength of character?”. And, in a way, you would be right. The difference here though is that when you lose something, it happens gradually, like sand falling out of a bag one grain at a time. It happens almost so slowly and insignificantly you don’t even notice it’s happening.
You just wake up one day and poof it’s gone. Gradually and then suddenly.