If you haven’t already guessed from previous posts, traveling is a pretty important part of my life. Sharing that space is writing and spending time in the world’s biggest gym, the great outdoors. (Which, if you don’t mind me pointing out, is FREE for anyone to enjoy! You don’t need a membership, and you can use it as little or as much as you like!) Reading about how and why other people travel is interesting for me, too, and I’m often inspired by pictures from somewhere I’ve never been, or some activity that may or may not be on my to-do list. What’s important to travelers varies so much. I have friends that love to sample local cuisine, others that go around the world to see different kinds of animals. Whatever the reason you travel, it’s all valid to me. My personal motto is: Hike by Day, Write by Night. That goes for my life, too.
#travelislife is one of the hashtags I use fairly frequently on Instagram. Traveling not only IS life, but it’s LIKE life in that you have to find what’s important to you and do it as much as you can in the ways that makes you happy. Like life, you’ll get a lot of advice about how you should do things a certain way because it’s they way someone else does it. For instance, some people I used to travel with would insist that I wasn’t really experiencing travel to the fullest because I’m not usually very interested in the local cuisine. Here’s a confession: I’m not a foodie. I could care less about fancy food. I grew up eating simple, basic stuff because my family couldn’t afford anything else. Furthermore, I’m on a special diet, and I’m kind of fussy about what I eat. Why would I eat something I don’t even like and end up sick a long way from home? On the other hand, none of those people would even consider opening a journal and putting a few words down about their travels, but I write several pages a day, which results in hundreds of pages of reflection a year. I’m not saying that one is better than the other. What I am saying is that everyone has different priorities and they’re all of value. Do what’s important to you!
Here’s another confession: I’ve never slept in a tent, and I don’t plan to anytime soon. Hiking friends have tried to convince me that I’m missing so much being a stubborn day hiker and refusing to carry my lodging on my back and sleep under the stars. First of all, I usually hike alone. Being in the middle of nowhere at night by myself doesn’t appeal to me. I do that in daylight hours, and even that is pushing it sometimes. Believe me, I’ve been alone in locations remote enough that I didn’t see another human all day. Add a grizzly bear or two, and the tent becomes even less attractive. As a matter of fact, forget the grizzly. Being in the middle of nowhere at night with most people isn’t going to work for me, either! Secondly, and this is the biggest reason, night time is my write time when I’m traveling. I love being tucked into a motel room void of all the responsibilities of home and just being able to write! Not so sure a laptop is going to feel that good on my back on a hiking trail all day long. This Hike by Day, Write by Night thing is a tried and true thing for me, honed over many years of traveling. Somehow I just can’t see myself hunched over my computer writing a book while being protected by a thin piece of fabric, and as Mother Nature dumps buckets of rain on me!
What’s the point of all this jibber-jabber? I truly appreciate all the concern my friends and family have for my well being. Really, I do. That my buddies want me to enjoy to the fullest extent the things I love best really touches my heart. But in the end, I have to do what’s best for me, just like they do what’s best for them. People rarely see that their way isn’t the only way to experience something. Sometimes, their “help” even hurts, and they don’t realize it. There’s nothing worse than someone that cares about you telling you you’ve got it all wrong and they have it all right. Here’s the solution: nod, smile, and say, “Hey, thanks!” Then just keep doing what you’re doing.
Listen, happiness is hard enough to find. Trying to take everyone’s advice makes it all the harder to stay on track. Find what makes you happy, and stick to it. Like glue.