We come into life clenching our fists, we live trying to hold on, but in the end life teaches us that we all must let go.
When I was younger, I thought that my future held my circle of friends; we seemed inseparable. When I owned a house, I put my heart and soul into its maintenance, sweating and struggling to hold onto it because I was so sure that it was in my future.
I thought the same thing about my job, that my future held a high-paying career as a computer programmer, or a security consultant. At one point I was certain that my future held a position in the military. I was sure it held my ex-girlfriend.
But I was wrong, about all of it.
I learned that by telling ourselves day in and day out that we know what the future holds, that it must hold this thing or that person just because we always thought that it would, we lock ourselves into self-limiting and self-destructive patterns.
We hold onto these expectations because it’s safer that way, because our primal instinct wants to feel secure, because it wants to know that we’ve been somewhere and that we’ve done something and that all of this must mean we’re going somewhere, with someone, or with a specific group of someones.
We want to see ourselves making tangible progress, moving laterally from one direction to another, swimming toward a specific destination and making specific, measurable progress. We don’t want to think three-dimensionally, to look down into a dark abyss and imagine sinking to a undefinable place that holds so much unknown, to a place that has no certain depth and no measurable end, a place where anything can happen.
We don’t want to imagine that, but that’s exactly what the future holds, a dark unknown. We have no light to shine on the future. We have no map to lead us through. There is no rulebook that determines what happens and what doesn’t, who lives and who dies, who comes, and who goes. Life isn’t a two-dimensional surface with birth and death clearly marked on either end. It’s dynamic. It’s unpredictable. It’s raw.
You are not who you were yesterday and tomorrow, you won’t be who you are right now. But who you are right now is real. It’s tangible, and the only thing holding you back from blossoming is what you take with you into tomorrow, and what you expect to find when you get there. Your vision of the future is flawed. It’s a mirage. It’s an island that you’re swimming toward that doesn’t even exist.
Every heartbeat is a heartbeat you’ve never experienced. Every breath is a breath you’ve never taken.
Envision a future that is so unwritten, a future that is so strange that you have trouble holding it in your imagination. Envision a future so blank, so pure and unencumbered by the past or the present, so savage and wild and deep that it remains unrestrained by preconceptions of yesterday and unchained from expectations of today.
Envision a future that is so impossibly unimaginable that it creates an abyss of nothingness, and then, allow yourself to float into that unknown, leaving behind everything to embrace a future you that is flawless and free.
Three years ago I was commuting in bumper-to-bumper traffic when I saw a duck in the grass and felt jealous of its freedom. Yesterday my office was a cafe near the Sydney Opera House. Today I went off-roading in "the Australian bush", visited the largest deep space radio telescope in the southern hemisphere, and walked among wild kangaroos. Think outside the box. Release preconceived notions of reality. The heart can only stretch if the mind is willing to let go.
I have what feels like the entire earth to myself, this huge open expanse inviting me to come play, to run, to sprint, to feel the sand between my toes and the warm breeze on my skin.
But I don't run. I stroll. I feel the lukewarm water lapping gently at my feet and watch as the quiet waves roll in softly and ripple across the infinite sandy expanse.
I close my eyes and inhale deeply, taking into my being the pure energy that surrounds me. It's intoxicating. I cannot breathe deeply enough. It's as if the air itself is so full that my lungs are unable to capture it. My body tingles with overwhelm.
I look up at the stars and exhale a sense of immense gratitude and contentment. If peace itself could be captured in a bottle, this must be what drinking it feels like.
With all the places in the world to visit -- with all the places that my freedom allows me to go -- I suddenly feel no desire to go anywhere, no sense of urgency to see a new place, or to relocate, or to even explore.
What more do I need? Where else will I go? What more could I possibly ask for in a destination?
What was it about this beach in Florida? Was there some energy here that my being was connecting with? Or was this experience perhaps more superficial, more related to the warm weather and the never-ending sunshine?
For the past few weeks I have gone for a walk on this beach near Cape Canaveral almost every single day and incredibly this experience has followed me each time.
I arrive about thirty minutes before sunset and spend two hours or so walking and/or running until the sun goes down and the stars come out.
Each night before leaving I stand in the ocean and look up at the stars, picking out planets and constellations and watching for satellites and shooting stars.
With the ocean before me and the stars and planets above, I can feel my infinitesimal size.
Why am I here? What am I doing? What is my purpose for traveling? Why do I need to go anywhere?
I ponder these questions over and over while simultaneously feeling certain that I won't stop asking them, just as I feel certain that I won't stop traveling. (After all, none of us really do stop traveling. We're in constant motion, whether on this planet or through time itself.)
I'm reminded by these experiences that my travels are not a method of 'searching'; I'm not trying to fill a void or figure out what's missing. Everything I need, everything I ever will need, is already here; I'm already complete.
What travel does is help me strip away all the social conditioning, all the preconceived ideas and expectations that I create for myself. It helps me release all the bits and pieces of identity that I, and others, have plastered all over me in attempt to create a definition and a design that can easily be grasped onto.
Embracing change as a constant requires embracing detachment and movement as constants as well. Letting go is part of moving forward, just as moving forward is inherent in letting go.
Travel helps me rediscover what's already here, what goes with me from place to place, from moment to moment unchanged. Just as the ocean washes away my footprints, so does each moment wash away the previous, leaving behind only what was already here.