Can you picture yourself alone at the bank of a freezing lake, surrounded by snow capped mountains and sparse vegetation? Being in the wilderness, at the edge of the unknown and at nature’s mercy can be a scary thought.
But, imagine the thrill of precariously sitting at the edge of a rock, staring at a mammoth iceberg. Imagine experiencing the chill down the spine each time the icy wind brushes past your face, and the overwhelming moment when you hear the whistle of a blue bird that has decided to pay you a brief visit.
The experience of discovering the unknown is inexplicable. It’s an experience that is exclusive; an experience that you cannot have when you’re surrounded by a swarm of people in bars, in the city or on sun kissed beaches. At that moment, staring at an iceberg and listening to the gushing winds, you can hear yourself, loud and clear. Once you’re back to your daily routine, you’re more aware of your thoughts and when you do get lost, a desire to wander again and a lust to get lost only to re-discover emerges. This desire, to travel alone, to push physical boundaries and discover a place and consequently discovering yourself is called Wanderlust. It’s a term that has quickly made its way to almost every travel enthusiast’s vocabulary.
Not convinced? You still don’t think traveling, especially solo, can help you discover your true self? Read on …
1. It’s a matter of time: Everyday when you wake up and before you go to sleep, the thoughts that dominate your mind are the pending job lists; that ‘life altering’ midweek presentation, the due date to pay bills, the weekend family commitment, the long list of groceries that need to be purchased, the monthly installment and servicing of your car.
These thoughts leave little room for dwelling deep into your innermost thoughts, emotions and desires. Travel allows you to put everything on hold. Even a simple fishing trip or dip in a lake allows you to de-clutter your mind and focus on thoughts that are closest to your heart.
2. Freedom to make choices: When was the last time you walked into a restaurant alone and enjoyed a hearty meal? Do you remember the last time you were in bed all day, reading a book? Have you ever struck a conversation with an absolute stranger while sipping an expresso at a local deli on the highway? Travel takes way your inhibitions. It turns fear into a challenge. Every detour becomes a discovery and an encounter turns into an experience, where no one is judging your actions. You feel humble, devoid of ego and open to experiences, each of which teach you something new, mostly about yourself..
3. Learn to push yourself: A trek to a waterfall atop a hill is full of adventure. But, it is also filled with moments of weakness, both physical and mental; moments where your mind tells you to turn back. You do not give up; you battle it out and then, finally, you start to hear the water hitting the rocks. The little droplets that you feel on your face when you reach close to the waterfall fill you up with a sense of accomplishment. Travel teaches you precious lessons of setting a goal, testing your perseverance and lets you experience the confidence that follows after achieving a goal.
4. Respect and appreciate other points of view: We tend to associate with people who are ‘like us’ and share our lives with people, who are in similar satiation as we are; that other frustrated colleague at work or the neighbor, who has an equally big mortgage to pay.
Travel gives you a chance to interact with people and experience cultures that you never imagined existed. You intently listen to a fellow traveler, whose language you barely understand, pour his heart out. You relish a meal without knowing what’s in it. No amount of reading or watching movies can lend you that perspective.
5. Learn to enjoy silence: You wake up to a loud alarm each morning, then listen to the morning news on television, then the radio blares in your car en-route work. You get in to work amidst chatter emerging from all corners of the office and all day long, you hear the tap-tap of the keyboard and message beeps on your phone. In the evening, you head to a bar with loud music and then get home and have the television lull you to sleep. Imagine the sounds that your mind processes every single day. In this chaos, we lose touch with ourselves. Travel allows you to experience and appreciate silence.
Most people travel without actually knowing what they can derive out of the experience. However, an increasing number of people have started to see therapeutic qualities in travel. They have started to realize that it can enrich their lives, lead them to a path of wellness and help them discover themselves.