Men go abroad to wonder at the heights of mountains, at the huge waves of the sea, at the long courses of the rivers, at the vast compass of the ocean, at the circular motion of the stars, and they pass by themselves without wondering.
-Augustine of Hippo, The Confessions of Saint Augustine
At the start of this new year, I find myself pondering a lot of big life questions. As I shared in my first postcard of 2017 (Don’t get Postcards from Hailey? Sign up here!), Justin and I have been discussing our vision for the year and wrestling with topics along these lines:
What will our 2017 look like? In what ways can we enrich our Monday to Friday rhythms? Where can we step up and lead others? How do we make the most of this expat life we’ve been given? Which travel dreams can we realize this year?
Although we don’t have all the answers, we have benefited from these very intentional discussions and some thoughtful planning. But I have to tell you… there is an even bigger question that has been buzzing around my mind for ages: Why do we travel?
It seems to me that there are many reasons why we humans travel – to vacation, for work, out of a sense of exploration, to be with others, in search of something, to escape, to discover and learn. Likewise, there are many reasons why we humans don’t travel – life circumstances, finite resources, fear of the unknown, and contentment with the familiar. Travel is a paradoxically communal yet individual experience, and thus we each should ask ourselves “Why do I travel?”
Of course, when I ask myself that question, it seems to lead to a dozen others.
What is it inside me that wants to keep exploring and experiencing the world? Why do I feel the need to personally encounter different cultures or far-flung landscapes and landmarks? Why is it so hard to stay put? How do I benefit from travel? In what ways have my travels made me a better person? What have I gained and what have I lost as a result of my travel choices? Will this passion for travel ever fade or is it ingrained in my DNA? How will I look back on my travels in five, twenty, and forty years from now?
I share my inner thoughts with you today, because I want for you what Saint Augustine wanted for all of us – to wonder at ourselves. I am quick to wonder at the world, and maybe you are, too. But what questions are you asking yourself these days? Will you go through 2017 without taking time to analyze your strengths and weaknesses, evaluate what is going well in your life and what areas need some changes, and identify how you think and why you act? Or will you charge into the depth of who you are and uncover something new about yourself in the process?
My hope is that you will wonder much and wander far.
Hi there! I’ve got more questions for you – was this post too deep? Do you even get what I’m talking about here? Do any of my questions resonate with you?
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