Only 11 days into the current leg of our trip, we have moved around quite a bit. We have traveled by taxi, micro-bus, bus, hitched in a semi, rented motorcycles, ridden bikes, boarded a boat, flown several legs on airplanes, and walked a lot (looking forward to Panama for the train, putting us at 10 different means of travel). The walking part doesn’t bother me one bit, but it’s the pace that gets at you after some days. Spend too much time traveling and not enough time exploring and you find yourself in some kind of lopsided 8th grade algebra equation.
We have pushed through some of Costa and much of Pacific Coast Nicaragua in a short time (as intended) and are looking forward to the time when we are more able to slow the pace in Panama. We pick up a friend there, and explore southward. After a pleasant breakfast of melon and banana with my obligatory morning coffee, I sit down to write this not to comment on the pace of desired travel, but rather to reflect on how One’s mental state can affect your travels in general.
Prior to this trip, I have been wrestling with a personal relationship that means a great deal to me. I have spent some time in and out of my head and heart on this issue, in a very confused and flailing way. Anyone that knows me knows that I can be indecisive, clumsy and awkward with friendships and relationships. It seems strange, as someone that can so clearly see certain opportunities and decisions and execute quickly and efficiently, that the other side of the dichotomy is extremely wind-blown. This particular issue has had me in an emotional wreck for some time, however.
It is absolutely critical that you be in a squarely seated headspace before taking a trip. To be at peace while on the road is essential to your presence wherever your journeys may take you. I have found myself disconnected from events at times, because I am so distracted and inside my own head. My heart and mind are miles away, separated by several countries, thousands of miles and a seemingly un-span-able distance. Moments that I should be fully involved and present for have passed me by without any active participation on my part. It is a painful thing to realize.
To be sure, you will collect much more from your travels if you are able to be centered and in the moment. Why are you traveling? What are you gaining? Are you with the person you want to share this moment with? What is the reason you are doing what you are doing? For me lately, these questions have been hard to answer without hesitation, because of the way that I have strung myself across the stars, trying to be present in two separate places at once. It is unfair to yourself to spend your limited time on this Lonely Planet feeling this way. I would highly recommend taking time out to reflect on these things (which I did, with patience, alas resolving little to nothing). It is well worth the investment to center yourself squarely beneath your heart and mind before you square your pack over your shoulders and disembark for wherever you may be headed.
For me personally, this has never been as difficult as it is presently, but some brutally honest words from someone I whom I regard very highly have helped to push me in the right direction. To anyone that may be struggling with the same trial, wherever you may be, I wish you the utmost luck and intrepidness. One beach day in SJdS and then we race across Costa Rica, heading for some friends in Puerto Viejo before heading for the Panama Border.
Photo from Volcan Concepción, Isla de Ometepe, Nicaragua.