5 things I learned about traveling and anxiety
I’ve been away, not writing you things. I missed it, I missed you! I also remembered that writing is a tiny anchor that I require to stay present and passably sane. I have, however, been listening harder than ever.
I left my quiet home in Grand Rapids for a loud and beautiful journey from Chicago to Miami. I slept next to my sister instead of my dog. I pulled on shorts instead of sweaters. I drank frozen booze drinks instead of green juice. The only workout I did was running after a bus (missed it). Things were very different than my normal routine. Don’t get me wrong, I’ve always loved traveling, but in the last couple of years, it’s made me feel anxious. The change in routine, the lack of control, the unknown. This time, things felt different, and I have 5 ideas on why that is:
- I’ve been getting into the habit of trying to pick up on and focus on sounds when I’m feeling floaty (that’s a feeling, right?) or stressed. It brings me back inside, and makes the inside (of my mind) feel like a more peaceful place to be. In a response to my last post, my friend shared something that her yoga instructor told her and I keep coming back to it: “…the instructor told us to think of the noises we heard in savasana (passing cars, foot traffic, people talking, sometimes arguing, the pipes whooshing with water, other people breathing) as the universe carrying on around us. And to think of ourselves as rocks in that steady river of noises moving around us. To ground ourselves, to hold on tight.” In the middle of the dance floor in Miami, at 2am, you can honestly still find peace in the sounds around you.
- I gave up on control. You can plan your face off, and you will still miss a bus now and then, or forget to pack a single pair of socks (but like, so many necklaces? Why?) and it will be fine. One time, I left my entire suitcase in a taxi in NYC. I lost my shit. Literally and figuratively. It was super crappy. But I’m alive, right? My wallet was stolen in France. I missed my train in London. Life is inconvenient as hell, but once I accepted that, it became much easier to take that dumb stuff in stride. I find that sitting down, getting a cup of coffee, and figuring out the next steps is a good plan when things fall apart. I will say, however, that scream crying in Central Park over my lost luggage will go down as one of the most dramatic moments in my life, and I don’t think I would trade that one in.
- It’s never not going to be stressful. Something I realized recently is that I am always going to be inclined to be anxious and emotional. That’s just what it is. It’s somewhat freeing to know that I never need to be perfect. Learning to deal with the garbage feels way easier, to me, than making sure I never again encounter garbage.
- Long rides in the car or on trains are amazing for relaxing into your head and listening or working through shit. I don’t know why, but they don’t bore me anymore. I also figured out the perfect position in which to contort my body to sleep comfortably on Amtrak. Thank you, yoga.
- Taking a nap on the earth is priceless. Do you feel that way? Just laying down on a blanket in a park or beach (or grass outside your office…I do it and it’s worth the stares) just does something good. No matter what city I’m in, that always feels like home to me.
So, that’s some stuff I learned. My plan is just to keep listening, because I’m starting to suspect that the answers are waiting to be heard, felt and touched.