Picture credit: Jairph at jairph.ch
Traveling is such an emotional experience for me. There are so many planes in which the mind, body and soul are getting exposure to enriching things unknown before.
The time zones keep changing, especially if there are layovers. That, in itself, creates a lack of order for someone who is typically a little too preoccupied with being organized. The lack of general hygiene, or, the lack of putting extra efforts to maintain the same, creates mounting discomfort and disgust with oneself. The clothes getting wrinkled and clumpy with positions attempted to find long enough comfort in the tight seats in the flight, just long enough to get a long enough snooze. The lack of brushing my teeth in the last trip, (they threw away our toothpaste), was making my tongue and teeth feel grainy and disgusting with the mental image of a layer covering all the insides of my mouth. The adjusting, or not adjusting, poop cycle, the whenever you like coffees and alcoholic beverages. Basically, you’re screaming emotionally raw and vulnerable.
The sceneries are changing. They are not helping the emotional state. In fact, I don’t want them to help. I want these emotions. They try to melt the borders of my tightly compartmentalized brain. I intentionally want this, fully knowing that I will undergo unforeseeable, sometimes frustrating, experiences. But in the light of the enriching ones, the frustrating ones will be dealt with.
The life-transformative experiences:
There are the majestic clouds. When you look down at the fluffiest, straight from fantasy-land surface of clouds, you can’t help but stare at the forming shapes; with the awareness in your head that this is just gaseous, the experience is surreal. Wow, I thought we could’ve had a trampoline like experience on them. There’s the sun doing its glittering thing on the clouds, there are the contrails from jets passing by, like someone is drawing perfect curves with a very good quality glitter pen. There are other planes at varying heights and trajectories. The scene makes you acknowledge that so far above, this is the balcony view that we are talking about.
There’s the experience of seeing cities, farmlands, oceans, and lands battered with frost from up above. I try to squint and observe the details of the houses and wonder that the vehicles moving around are proof that life is going on perfectly at its own pace without two cares given to a very important phenomenon of “my existence”. Remarkable, life does go on, me or not me. Who knew, haha. This is profoundly humbling. Makes me question my entire identity, goals, moods, wants, shame, regrets, greed, anger, … really, ego.
It’s even more wonderful to observe your own city and surroundings from this high up perspective. That’s why they draw Toronto’s skyline like that and that’s where the silhouette of the Toronto islands comes from. I see.
When I drop everything and stare at our very own CN tower, which, by the way, I can see, if I’m conscious enough, from our 19th floor lunch room at work, every single day, from the plane’s window seat, my husband’s actually, but that’s mine essentially, I question as to why. Why am I so drawn to the same, mundane CN tower?
When it’s pitch black outside but you see clusters, big and small, of towns and villages, glowing, with gold and white lights, often with a thicker gold line weaving through the centre of the cluster, you’re in awe to observe it, especially when your gaze trails to the other kind of cluster up above, of a grand star studded celestial ceiling. With a faint horizon of the earth, promising daylight soon. I can’t help but press my forehead on the window glass and look at the slowly disappearing clusters as we move towards absolutely dark ocean waters, my breath fogging my view. The ocean.
I have an innate fear of being forced to go in the middle of the ocean and being pulled down by sharks or other assorted, weird, but terrifying, ocean reptilians. And, if the ocean is this dark, I don’t even allow that direction of thought. But, all this forces me to face my fears. Because deep down, I know, when it comes to surviving, I will have no choice but to go with whatever is being presented to me in life. Another little stirring of profoundness in the pit of my belly. This one will take a bit of time to sit well with me.
Cultures. People. Yes. How, the beautiful stores at the airports have nice salespeople trying to speak English in their own accents. Most of them are smiling a lot. Volunteering to tell you about their city. There are the grumbling ones too. But mostly, if I start at a good tone, I get it back the same or better. I’m not a very social person, otherwise. But, I get motivated to push my limits and just smile and say hello.
Traveling makes me push mental and physical borders, order lattes with customizations at a heavy-traffic Finnish cafe, deal with unforeseen emergencies and accidents with surprising calm and rationale, try to embrace the sometimes new and confusing shower systems, enhance confidence that I can eat at any place, continually perfect the balance between having everything in my bag and minimizing the weight and volume of the same, asking for help, giving help, find meaning by parsing foreign words, and most importantly, get a tad bit closer to the real me.
Needless to say, I always grab a traveling opportunity with bare hands, bounce it up and down in the air, and hug it tight.