I survived the Polar Vortex. I don't have the t-shirt to prove because I don't need it. It's still too cold to wear one. While this winter proved to be the most extreme in something like 170 years, it was also suffocating. We went 7 months without getting over 70 degrees. That's a long time, even for Northerners.
I promised the Culture Keeper a blog post last summer, but there was nothing relevant to write until a few weeks ago. I boarded a plane to vacation with the ultimate travelers, my brother and sister-in-law. Most of you know them for their photographs of world travels, their talent and their beauty. They are all of those things. They are also generous in spirit and chill as all get out.
In contrast, I take life a little too seriously, travel very little (this was my first solo vacation in 10 years). I've spent more of my adult life as a gypsy – moving and settling, not traveling. There is in fact a difference. I'm the oldest child, my brother is the middle and we dipped into opposite sides of the gene pool. However, when we are together, natural levity occurs. Getting away to Nashville felt more like getting back to something familiar. It was exactly what my heart needed. Timing is everything. I sat in my seat waiting for take-off looking for something on Facebook to distract me and I saw this:
"Travel not to find yourself, but to remember who you've been all along." -Fresh Exchange Blog
By going away, I was returning home to myself. This little trip began to feel like a rebirth, a gasping for air, a place to be re-known and feel the sun.
There are reasons to get away.
Get away for the sake of getting away. Where does the weight lift? Does it take a 13 hour flight or a 1 hour drive? Follow what your heart needs and see where that leads.
Shake it up then shake it off. Travel interrupted my comfort zone boundaries. It shook me up. When I landed and reset my routines, I could shake off excess baggage (and leave it!).
Re-see. I saw myself differently, my circumstances back home differently and my desires differently. Changing my scenery changed the way I could see.
Be surprised. Keith King, photographer and friend said to me just last night, "As much as I love getting in the car to drive around our area to see its beauty, there aren't many surprises." New settings mean new surprises. Throw yourself a surprise party and travel.
Remember yourself. When you marinate too long in the familiar you become it. The perceptions others have of you, start to become your own. The expectations that aren't realistic become real. You get lost in your own town. Get away to remember why you stay where you stay. If nothing comes to you, then perhaps it's time to move away.
All vacations come to an end. I came home to cold, fast mornings and expectations. I also came home to the realization that I had overcomplicated the idea of getting away. I'm not my brother (thank God, I couldn't keep his schedule) or the Culture Keeper. I am me. You are you. We are living within the constraints of our time, finances and talent. Defining what "away" means is different from traveler to traveler, soul to soul. Be okay with that but don't wait 10 years for this revelation. Getting away could simply mean getting off your devices, your sofa and comparing your story to only one person: YOU.
After all, "You are the one you've been waiting for." –Byron Katie
Shea Petaja // Culture Keeper