When Time Stays Still

In 45 days, I slept in over 10 different beds in 7 major cities. The first week back in my own bed pleased the introvert in me but it didn’t take long until I started feeling that itch again. It’s been 50 days since I last traveled and another 25 days until my next trip.

I count the days like an addict sobering up from the endorphin high of traveling; going through withdrawal, describing myself as stagnant, not challenged, and definitely lacking spirit.

A week or so ago, Spotify played in the background while I brushed my teeth, overthinking about what trips I wanted to take next. Where should I go? When should I buy tickets? Who could I go with? How much money did I not have but was willing to spend? How many more stamps can my passport get before expiring?

The battle in my head relieved me while also stressing me at the same time. Making plans made me feel like I was in control, something to look forward to, yet in reality I had no answers to any of these questions, making me feel out of control, and a little bit lost.

As if the universe were sending me a message, a song came on right at that moment (W. Darling – Hunting Happiness): If I could stay still, just for a minute, I’d find myself in it. If I could see clear and count all my blessings, instead of the seconds… The road to paradise is easy to pass. You’ll never see the sign if you’re moving too fast. I’m so caught up hunting happiness, I move so quickly, it can’t catch me.

It then occurred to me: I was preoccupying myself with the joy of possible travel in order to distract me from the current issues in my life (i.e. my love life, my financial stability, devalued car, etc.). Thinking about traveling was almost like planning how to runaway. I was putting hope in the future without mending the presence. It reminded me about a part in Erica Jong’s book, Fear of Flying:

It’s only when you’re forbidden to talk about the future that you suddenly realize how much the future normally occupies the present, how much of the daily life is usually spent making plans and attempting to control the future. Never mind that you have no control over it. The idea of the future is our greatest entertainment, amusement, and time killer.

Less than 72 hours ago, I was introduced to someone through a long distance mutual friend. He was on his way to Colorado and my apartment was his first destination. He flew in with a one way ticket, for an indefinite amount of time and had no idea what he wanted out of coming here – except to just be here.

He was living out of his suitcase, working remotely, and going where the wind wanted to take him (literally too, in his own words: ‘the flight landed in half the time due to crazy high winds and roller coaster like turbulence’). Of course, initially, I was envious that he had the freedom of doing such a thing while I was ‘stuck’ here attached to so many things.

But, just like the song had played at the right moment, he walked through my apartment door at the perfect moment too. It’s hard to explain why or how, but I completely let go. The same kind of letting go you do while traveling. There’s a sense of comfort that triple-folds when expectations aren’t around and you’re just there, in the moment. 

Along with some friends: we brunched, talked nonsense, took naps, eggplant-ed, sweated in the sun, did yoga, ate delicious Mexican tacos, had a curry adventure, watched Aladdin, learned about each other, chased our whiskey with watered down coffee, and created millions of moments that could never have been planned.

There was nothing that special about where we went or what we did, but the feeling of it was absolutely grandiose. But why did it feel that way when nothing big actually happened to start stimulating a natural high? It felt that way because of time. Time felt still. How do I know this? Because our conversations were not deep, yet so very meaningful. We were excessively happy, without making any effort to be.

Mainly, I knew time was still because my new friend and I had only known each other for 36 hours, yet, saying goodbye to him felt like we had just spent the past 2 weeks together and needed this meaningful, grateful, memorable parting.

Time was still because I didn’t think about where it went, where it was going, if it was worth it or if it could be used in other ways. Time was still because I spent it as it was, not any other way, no matter what happened. It slowed things down which allowed me to look at the beauty of my surroundings and truly breath in life.

This instance was especially notable to me because, with the idea that traveling can change a person’s perspective, I didn’t have to actually travel anywhere – I didn’t have to leave in order to come back seeing things differently. I stayed here in Colorado and it was he who changed me with his traveling. I love it.
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