“If curiosity is the catalyst, travel the investment, what is the reward? Those of you who are loyal to travel…with no importance to the amount of stock you hold…why do you reinvest? What is the gain? Granted “travel” was the company, “experiences” its product, what would you credit for client retention?”
My relatively newish friend, Reyna, asked me this today while we were skyping. Before she even finished, I cut her off and said, “Change, Reyna. I travel for change.” She asked me about growth and we decided we could use the two words interchangeably.
I am temporarily returning to Rochester in less than two weeks. The night I return, it will have been a year and two days that I have been experiencing life in Mexico, Guatemala, Costa Rica and Panama. I had set three goals for myself a year ago; learn Spanish, start writing and teach English. I have attained all three of those goals and if nothing else, I’m patting myself on the back.
With less than two weeks remaining here in Boquete, I can’t help but reflect on the past year. Growth and change have been as constant as the ocean tides. Just like a girasol, I have rotated towards the sun to become a brighter, more vibrant version of me. I have slowly but surely taken steps to become the person I really want to be, to truly fall in love with myself. It’s not easy. It wasn’t easy, nor will it be easy in the future. There were times when I couldn’t imagine another day in a foreign country and there were times where I thought I would never return to Rochester permanently.
Sometimes changes in yourself are so subtle you don’t even take notice, like a true friendship that happens so organically that one day you are suddenly stricken with the question of how you ever got along in life without that person. That’s happened to me in every place I’ve lived in the past year. Reyna is one of those people. How much more complete my life feels with her in it fascinates me. How much more valuable my life feels with my Argentinian friend, Rulo, comforts me. How much more introspective and intuitive I’ve become since I met my Costa Rican friend, Silvia, warms my heart. How much funnier and more sarcastic my life is with my friend, Alison, tickles me pink.
What is the reward when you travel? Why do we do it? I can tell you I certainly do not travel simply for bragging rights. That’s ridiculous. The reward for me has been to introduce the full moon to my best friend’s newborn son as it rose over the Caribbean ocean in Tulum. The reward for me was to complete 80 hours of an intensive Spanish language course in Guatemala while simultaneously battling parasites in my gut living in a house where a shower curtain was the bathroom door. The reward for me is the awareness that I am a total nerd for learning English and Spanish grammar and thoroughly enjoy googling certain aspects of grammar to the point where I take quizzes online for fun (currently I’m having a love affair with all the uses of past participles in both languages). The reward for me has been to watch the stars on the clearest of nights in Boquete. The reward for me has been to swim first thing many mornings in the beaches of Puerto Viejo. The reward for me has been overcoming homesickness and knowing that I was on the right path. The reward for me has been unearthing perseverance and gumption. The reward for me has been the fact that I am no longer dragging my feet, dreaming of traveling and speaking Spanish- I’m doing it. The reward for me has been getting over the unhealthiest, unhappiest and most confusing relationship I’ve ever been in and gathering back the pieces of myself that I lost that year prior to leaving. They are dazzling pieces of garnet and turquoise that I am stringing back onto a necklace making myself beautiful again. And not beautiful to anyone else, but beautiful to me.
The reward has been learning to let go of things not intended for me. Germinating, cultivating and harvesting my intuition, knowing that my subconscious holds an incredible abundance of innate knowledge. The reward has been understanding that not everyone I meet is going to like me as much as I like them and it’s essential to accept that and let go. And in the process of letting go, another door will open up to you with a view of a sunrise so stunning how you never noticed it before is beyond you. The reward has been listening more and talking less.
The reward has been realizing that we have the ultimate power to manifest, whatever your dreams are, it is possible to attain them. It will never happen overnight and in this, the reward is touching on patience, letting it grasp you, a twig in a tiny birds grip.
The reward has been that every day I have changed ever so slightly. I have changed for the better, I learned to love myself, I learned to trust, I learned how to be whole and not search for completeness in someone else. I have learned how to “rise fierce and love gentle”(can’t tell you where that quote is from but I can tell you it’s not my own).
Touching back on what Reyna asked me, what would I credit for client retention? Growth and change. Complacency no longer sits with me at my kitchen table (well, my proverbial kitchen table). We are persistently evolving creatures and the only line we walk upon is broken and full of shards of glass. The choice is that we can either dodge the glass our entire lives or we can step upon each piece- bleeding, healing, strengthening, persevering, overcoming, changing and growing. You never know the outcome of something until you try it, for me, that means traveling. Are you going to dodge the glass or step defiantly upon it?