Travel Makes the Heart Grow Stronger

Out of all of the memories stored in my little mind, the ones where I’m on the move to somewhere new take up the most space. Traveling is my fondest activity. I know my city like the back of my hand; I can walk down neighborhood streets with my memories alone. And while knowing and loving familiar places is wonderful, there’s something about visiting somewhere new that excites me so much more. I’m sure it excites us all.

Our minds begin firing neurons in unique ways, creating new connections when we force ourselves into the unfamiliar. Rather than walking a path we know by heart, memorized and ingrained in who we already are, different environments challenge us mentally and emotionally to find a new way. We are literally strengthening the brain and mind by introducing ourselves to all that is new. There is no better way of expanding who and what you think you are than travel.

Car travels, view from the drivers seat

Travel makes one modest. You see what a tiny place you occupy in the world.

I often find myself profoundly disappointed in the routine of daily life; waking up at the same time, going to work at the same time on the same days, coming home, eating dinner, sleeping… Repeating the cycle until that beloved break in the week. But I’ve come to realize that I may be the problem in my daily unease. I choose to walk the same routes, I choose to follow a morning and evening routine without fail.

Rear view mirror and rain

What if I walked down a different street and meandered down a different path? Does it matter that the destination stays the same? What I love about travel is newness and what I loathe about routine is well… routine. Maybe, just maybe, if we can inject novel approaches in to how we go about our day we can start to create those new mental connections we subconsciously crave. The joys of travel are incomparable, but it’s good to remember that we don’t have to go far to reap the benefits.

While I may think I know my city like the back of my hand, I know there are streets I’ve never wandered down. Stores I’ve never walked in. Sights I’ve never seen and views from hilltops I’ve yet to discover. The paths I have memorized are the ones I’ve walked a million times but what about the ones I’ve never walked down? Maybe someday those too will be ingrained in my mental map. Even with effort I suppose there’s nothing quite like hopping into a car with a destination in mind and the anticipation of new memories to make.

Boat docks, waiting for the ferry

Joy in looking and comprehending is nature’s most beautiful gift.

 

Ferry viewing deck

Living in the Pacific Northwest has spoiled me in a way. There is so much variety in landscape. Mountains to deserts, rainforests to rolling plains and all of the little historic towns and little cities in between. I don’t have to travel far to feel as if I’ve wandered into another part of the world. Just check out Leavenworth! Our own little slice of Bavarian life.

The immigrants art muralLast September was my third anniversary with my Fiance. We celebrated by renting a car and driving to the ocean. The ocean is the ultimate destination for the both of us. There’s nothing like the endless expanse of water, reaching far off into the horizon and beyond, that excites our imaginations. And yet strangely one of my favorite part was driving through a little seaside city. While we were off on a weekend adventure to the ocean, to every person living in this city it was nothing new. This was their everyday. For a moment I thought it was unusual. I wondered if they found being surrounded by such beauty mundane. I suppose that’s how I feel about my own city and neighborhood. Maybe this is how every person living in any place feels, and a question that each visiting body ponders.

But one of the joys of traveling far is the awareness of differences in people and cultures. The Pacific Northwest reinforces what I already know because I am already a part of this beautiful little culture. While I hope my next adventure takes me somewhere that challenges my sense of culture and introduces me to new ways of being, I know that this is a privilege that very few of us are able to enjoy. But until that day, I will definitely enjoy many good mental vacations via Google Maps and that oh-so-cute little streetview man. And the beauty of my own backyard, of course.

On a mountain

Sunset at the ocean

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