Several years ago I took a test that measured the amount of stress certain situations and events have on a person’s life. I was instructed to check off the things I was experiencing, or had recently experienced. They ranged from death of a loved one to loss of a job to moving, and the list went on. I was surprised to see that one of the items listed was, “going on vacation.” Going on vacation? What are they kidding? Isn’t the whole idea of vacationing to reduce stress?
After 4 years of living and working in Korea, I am leaving in a week. I’m packing boxes filled with all the things I’ve accumulated. I’m shipping those 10 boxes home to Maine. At the same time, I’m packing my suitcase for a four-month adventure. Sounds amazing doesn’t it? My husband, Steve, and I have been planning this adventure for some time, and it is now upon us! If we don’t kill each other before we leave next week it will be a minor miracle. “Why are you taking that?” “Are you sure you need that?”, are just a few of the questions we are asking each other. The stress is building. Luckily, we have travelled together all over the world, and we both know that once we leave all will be grand, but until then I have to remind myself that going on vacation was on that stress scale. We aren’t just leaving for a vacation, we are leaving for good. That means if we leave something behind, it’s forever. Yikes! I can feel the stress as I write this.
In many ways this is the dream of a lifetime. It also means I won’t have a “home” for all this time. I’ll be staying in hotels, inns and hostels, on boats and on a cruise ship, in Airbnb apartments and travelling by plane and train. I’ll be meeting up with friends in a few places and walking 500 miles in Spain in 37 days. But truth be told, I’ll be living out of a suitcase.
I’ve written in the past about my need for “home” and my ability to make wherever I am home, but never for this long and never in this many places. I’ll bring pictures of my grandchildren to put on a night stand wherever I am. I’ll cook meals in the apartments we stay in. I’ll do laundry and all the mundane things of ordinary living, except I’ll be doing them in extraordinary places.
My goal on this journey is to be present and to not be distracted by the past or the future, but instead focus on what’s in front of me. The stress scale didn’t say that the vacation itself was stressful. Rather the preparation, anticipation and anxiety of what’s to come after the vacation is what causes a person to lose sight of the moment. It’s a challenge to stay in the moment and I don’t have any illusions that I won’t be distracted by the future and what lies ahead. My goal is to focus on my surroundings and not miss any opportunities.
While we were packing the other day I was carrying on about not having a home, Steve just listened and smiled at me reassuringly and I realized once again that home is where I am and where we are.
My plan is to blog a lot more during this adventure.
Stay in touch and I will too.
With love and gratitude,