Last week marked the four year anniversary of our idea to sell it all and wander the globe with our children. It was mid-winter break 2013 and we went on a much needed vacation. What we loved about the week away was the mindful awakening each of else felt for different reasons. We relished each new horizon, new sound, new flavor and a new vantage point from which to watch the day unfold. We were only a few hours drive from home, but invigorated by our fresh perspective.
I will never forget the exact moment we spoke the words, “What if every day could feel this way?” That was February of 2013. Six months later we had liquidated our life, transformed our work, and we were on a one way flight to Rome with three kids under ten. My mother sent me the following poem last Wednesday, the same day we were reminiscing about all that has happened since that short vacation four years ago.
Even though I have devoured these words many times, each iteration teaches me something new. I hope you feel the same way …
For the Traveler
By John O’Donohue
Every time you leave home,
Another road takes you
Into a world you were never in.
New strangers on other paths await.
New places that have never seen you
Will startle a little at your entry.
Old places that know you well
Will pretend nothing
Changed since your last visit.
When you travel, you find yourself
Alone in a different way,
More attentive now
To the self you bring along,
Your more subtle eye watching
You abroad; and how what meets you
Touches that part of the heart
That lies low at home:
How you unexpectedly attune
To the timbre in some voice,
Opening in conversation
You want to take in
To where your longing
Has pressed hard enough
Inward, on some unsaid dark,
To create a crystal of insight
You could not have known
When you travel,
A new silence
Goes with you,
And if you listen,
You will hear
What your heart would
Love to say.
A journey can become a sacred thing:
Make sure, before you go,
To take the time
To bless your going forth,
To free your heart of ballast
So that the compass of your soul
Might direct you toward
The territories of spirit
Where you will discover
More of your hidden life,
And the urgencies
That deserve to claim you.
May you travel in an awakened way,
Gathered wisely into your inner ground;
That you may not waste the invitations
Which wait along the way to transform you.
May you travel safely, arrive refreshed,
And live your time away to its fullest;
Return home more enriched, and free
To balance the gift of days which call you.
This poem has reminded us, although we recently celebrated the day we spoke the words out loud, the dream was always a part of us. For years it was percolating and waiting for us to catch up with our wildest vision of the possibilities each day presents.
We knew the journey was sacred far before we ever left because feeling free has nothing to do with leaving and everything to do with how one answers “the gift of days which call you.”