Greetings Terry readers! I have so much to tell you about the last little while. But firstly, I haven’t properly posted for ages because I’ve been off celebrating Eid, and it would probably be useful to talk about that a bit. (Did you know one in every four people celebrate the occasion?) To briefly explain: this Eid is a celebration that follows the completion of Hajj, a journey that Muslims worldwide strive to make at least once in their lives. And for an awesome visual description of what this year’s Hajj and Eid looked like, I highly recommend checking out this amazing photo collection by the Boston Big Picture. Their collections are always filled with breathtaking images, and this one is no different. (I liked it so much I decided to change things up and record a video post instead of just regular text).
In September I attended a special screening of the IMAX film “Journey to Mecca” that featured the producer of the film in attendance. And in his opening remarks (yay for purse sized Moleskines), he spoke about how the film was the most challenging one he has ever made (and he’s made films in outer space and deep underwater and everywhere in between) but has also been the most rewarding project he’s worked on as well, because of the “reaction and gratitude of the audience“. And I can understand why it elicited such a strong response – the film is a beautiful/insightful window into a journey that is about connecting with life goals, about learning more about yourself, other people and other cultures, and about persisting through obstacles in addition to so much more.
And these are elements common to all wonderful transformative travel experiences. In the video above, I’ve asked what some of your top travel destinations are, but with all these Eid and Hajj reflections I’ve been having recently, I’m also curious to hear about trips you’ve taken in the past that have influenced you enormously, how travel impacts you, and how you bring that impact back into your daily life once you’re returned home.
I’ll start. For me, two important travel experiences are a trip to Scotland I made years ago as an excited 2nd year student and a trip in 2008 to Saudi Arabia as a part of a study program (incidently, the trip was called the Rihla, in honour of the travels of Ibn Battuta, the explorer who is featured in the IMAX film I just described). Scotland was my first solo trip outside of North America, and I have lovely memories dreaming in trains and buses and Edinburgh cafes, puzzling out maps in the granite city (Aberdeen) and exploring Glasgow, among many other lovely moments. A passage in the book “The Art of Travel” that reminds me of the train trips I made then goes as follows:
Journeys are the midwives of thought. Few places are more conducive to internal conversations than a moving plane, ship or train. There is an almost quaint correlation between what is in front of our eyes and the thoughts we are able to have in our heads: large thoughts requiring large views, new thoughts new places. Introspective reflections which are liable to stall are helped along by the flow of the landscape.
That space to reflect, to imagine, to dream and to think of new possibilities is one of the reasons I love travel so much. Away from familiarity, you are able to see the strengths and weaknesses of your personality more clearly, and can more easily move beyond self or externally imposed limitations and labels. It creates the space to become more. That was the theme of that first trip.
The other major reason I love travel is because it is a disruption in routine, and is an opportunity to create new patterns and push oneself to new limits. To see what one can actually fit into a day. In Saudi Arabia, I would wake up around 4 am and scurry off to class half tripping over my abaya in the early morning light, and then collapse into bed after midnight. There was a brief nap period during the hottest part of the day, but other than that I was completely absorbed in site visits and tours and classes and studying. I don’t think before that or since then, I’ve managed to cram that much into each moment.
Which brings me to my last question. Travel is wonderful, we all have different places we want to go, different places we’ve visited that have touched us in unique ways, and different things we glean from our experiences. How to keep those lessons at the forefront of your mind once you return back to the known?
So many questions, so little time.