On Saturday, as the sun was sinking in the sky, I left the airport and drove my familiar car down familiar highways toward my home.
It was exhilarating, though I was exhausted from travel and speaking and networking and exploring. I love traveling, especially alone, because I notice more, I contemplate more, I write more about how the world makes sense and how it does not. In a way, I return to myself, even if it’s a place previously unknown to me, and even when I miss my children and my husband and my home.
But being away is an opportunity to explore, not only new terrain, but the self. And I do. When I travel for work or for pleasure, especially when I do it unaccompanied, I treasure the moments of quiet and solitude because I am immersed in the discovery of the soul.
It is such a universal journey. When I blog on a trip, I am noticing the ways all of us find truth and meaning. I notice the ways connections and relationships and struggles and challenges make us more human, more relatable.
On the flight home, I befriended a lovely woman from Texas who sat beside me. We spent half the flight telling our life stories and learning about the points of commonality. We exchanged phone numbers and emails. Our stories resonated deeply. I know I will see her again.
In the airport in New York, I met a woman who told me of her faith journey, of her Jewish father, of her becoming “a believer,” of her children and her one grandchild. Her journey is everyone’s journey, a journey of discovery, a path toward the self.
And yet, when I returned home, collected my suitcase, put it securely in the back of my car and hit the road, I got a second wind. I was home! I was headed to my own bed, to my own surroundings, to even though it was not the cleanest house, it is mine.
I never sleep well in a hotel, regardless of how plush and posh it is. And the Roosevelt Hotel in New York was lovely indeed. But the pillows are flatter or fluffier or too many or too few. The bed is wide open and expansive and…different. Exploration is exciting, but coming home even moreso.
The thing is, home can be a physical place, or not. There is absolutely no place like home – and so many people never feel at home anywhere.
The challenge, then, is to find that unique state of being where you are home within yourself, no matter where you go geographically, no matter who is present or who has left. You can be at home, anywhere.
That is one reason why I love to travel; I am never lonely. I love the excitement of discovery, and even if I don’t sleep as well as I might like to, I am nonetheless invigorated for having understood another piece of the planet, for having ventured out into the unknown yet again, for seeing that by opening my eyes and listening well, I am a better person, a richer person, for having been open to the possibilities.