THE LONG & WINDING......
Ah the summer is nearly upon us.
For most expatriates in Singapore, this means a time to go “home” - though for many who have been away for years, the very notion of “home” is a blog post all in itself.
Travel is one of my greatest pleasures - I would gladly abstain from an expensive wardrobe, shoes and bags if it came down to a choice between the experience of travelling, or the avarice of acquisition. Most summers for us involve the meticulous planning ( by the MOTH ) for a what is usually a 3 week trip somewhere. These are my observations on us, and most people in general when we get a couple of thousand miles away.
Being on a tiny island like Singapore literally means that most trips away start with a taxi ride to what is inarguably the most efficient airport in the world. But personally for me, that first rush of joy occurs when those plane wheels lift off - And because happiness is a contagious thing, all our moods are lifted.
Travelling forces me to temporarily disconnect from my usual routine - and my typical routine is a great one. I have a job I love, I get to be at home when my kids get back from school; I get to practise yoga a lot; Life is generally pretty good, and in that I am lucky. However the change - of scenery, pace and outlook is always so exhilarating. In an environment different from my usual one, I can almost feel my brain firing off new neural pathways, which form new synapses, which keep all my grey matter juicy and elastic.
It is a fact that doing new things, or old things differently forces your brain to get stronger and faster: Attempting to speak a new language? Driving on the other side of the road? Juggling a crying child, no clean underwear, missed trains and wet laundry? Trying to do it all in another language? There! You just became both a problem solver and someone who can multi task.
Meeting different people from vast cultures and societies provides an education that is impossible to get in a traditional school, college or a university. People who travel frequently, and since they were young are more resilient - They roll with the punches and go with the flow, simply because they are more open to new experiences. Their higher levels of confidence and a broader world view makes them seek comfort in the fact that everything will in fact be ok.
I can occasionally be a very type A. I always need a plan, must have a plan, even if that plan is as simple as “I am staying at home in my pyjamas” kind of plan. The MOTH on the other hand positively thrives on spontaneity. Traveling with him has forced to examine and stretch the boundaries of my tolerance for uncertainty. Things don't always go as planned. Hotel rooms catch fire ( Jaipur ); Missiles fired at the embassy next door to your hotel ( thank you Sri Lanka ); A shaking bed right after watching "The Exorcist" ( Earthquake in Taiwan ); The list goes on and on. Lost luggage, forced aircraft landings, and more. These things happen, I am sure to force me to push the envelope just a little bit. They have helped me to be more accepting of Murphy’s law with equanimity.
Which leads me to the fact that all the opportunities to travel have made me less fearful of life and things itself - Diving on The Great Barrier Reef, because I was afraid of the ocean? Tick. Bungee jumping? Skydiving? Tick, tick. The fearless mindset has stuck because I travelled enough and very often alone. Want to get over your biggest fears? Pack a bag and go away. Life will throw you a curveball that will force you to deal with that fear sooner or later.Traveling with the kids right from the time they were really little has taught them to try new foods, embrace new cultures and most importantly has created a lexicon of shared memories. “….Remember when we ……?” is a pretty frequent phrase in the Thakkar household.
With our boys now 13 and 11, travel has become even easier than it used to be. It has forced the kids to try out new roles as well. Our older son is the “navigator” when sorting out routes on the GPS. Our younger one is in charge of doing a room “sweep” when checking out of a hotel to ensure that nothing is left behind.
They both have to research the place we are visiting and come up with an independent list of personal Top 3 things to Do ( which doesn't always get accomplished, but it does encourage them to take a more active role in the planning).
There are multiple opportunities for bravery, learning experiences and fun. There are also multiple opportunities for gratitude when they see how different the world can be for kids elsewhere. And for humility - impossible to not be humbled by an entire Canyon in front of you, or the swathe of the Milky Way stretching away above you.
The kids on the other hand force us as adults to have a clearer lens on the world. We get question after question from them about who, what, when, where, why, and how during our time on a trip. They force us to be more receptive to the things going around us. Many times, when we are traveling, especially in he first few days of the trip before I have learned to sloooow down, I don’t take time to reflect and capitalize on the self-discovery that being elsewhere has magically created. By being more observant and providing simple answers to their endless questions, we become more mindful of ourselves as well as the world we live in.
What are your summer plans? Where are you going? What pushes the envelope for you?
As I write this article, the tick-tock to the summer has begun. We are now T minus 26 days and counting. And for the first time in a long time, we have a summer with absolutely no travel yet planned or scheduled.
Which will open us up for a spontaneous trip to somewhere, I know. See? There's that envelope pushing again.
Drop me a line or two in the comments below.
Written by Anaita Thakkar for Lustre Jewellery