“I used to have this appetite for food, for life! And it’s just gone.” Thus, the heroine of Eat, Pray, Love (Gilbert, 2007) takes off on a solo journey to Italy, India and Indonesia. She sets out to recover this appetite, to find her “balance,” and to finally live for herself after dedicating her entire life to the pursuit of men. She wants a life change, and packing her bags is her pivotal step.
This thinking isn’t only common to the unfulfilled wife, or the victim of a mid-life crisis. Hostels around the world are full of young adults (can I say that without sounding old?) seeking their purpose in life.
Many travel to find themselves. Unfortunately, self-seeking is, by definition, self-centered. After living for yourself long enough, you will realize it is ultimately unfulfilling.
In this world, purpose requires you to take your eyes off yourself, and find your place relative to others.
Fortunately, travel often has a way of forcing your focus outward.
Travel yanks you from the reality of daily life and the comforts of home. It drops you in the center of a new reality–the reality of how others on this diverse, extraordinary planet survive without things that we take for granted, and face daily challenges we have never faced. Suddenly, it’s easier to remember that the world does not exist for your pleasure.
Rather than eating, praying and loving in order to find yourself, you would do well to first love, then pray, then eat in order to find the WORLD!
In life, in travel, our actions should be motivated by love.
When traveling solo, it is easy to get stuck inside your own head. Resist this temptation, and make it a point to love those you encounter! A smile goes a long way in expressing love, despite language barriers and foreign customs.
Loving others changes your attitude from one of wanting to be served, to one of willingness to serve others. When dealing with hotel receptionists, concierges, servers and taxi drivers, try to make their day, by offering a compliment or encouragement.
Traveling to places with drastically different cultures can be frustrating. Seeing poverty up close and personal can be completely overwhelming. But with prayer, you are not hopeless! Give when you can, but when you can do nothing to tangibly meet the needs you see, pray! Even when traveling to more materially rich destinations, pray for openness and sensitivity to those around you–for an ability to see things through a new perspective.
Also, pray from a place of gratitude. Give thanks for all you are experiencing…thanks for the beauty that you see, the new experiences, and even the most exacerbating moments. These can turn into some of the most memorable travel stories!
With a heart of love and gratitude, food can be enjoyed properly. Even a simple noodle dish can be savored with pure delight.
Lastly, don’t forget to share! The sharing with others leaves you open to trying new things, and maybe making some friends in the process!