The Traveler's Rose Garden
***random thoughts on my recent journey when staying at other people’s houses in exchange for some voluntary work***
I love dandelions. You can add them to your salad. Put the yellow flower in your hair.
Treat skin problems with the milk from their stalk. They grow everywhere.
They are simply lovely, not demanding flowers, offering their beauty for nothing.
They grow blowballs, seed heads. The favourite image for many striving or proposing “freedom”, letting go, restfulness, levitating serenity, lightheartedness, airiness.
image of a blowball borrowed from: https://c1.staticflickr.com/9/8161/6982633698_c0b86f5a21_b.jpg
You blow a blowball, and then the seeds fly graciously all over on a meadow under the fractured light. Optical phenomena. Like travelers. From their photos, often perceived as easy-going, leading a “catch me if you can” life-style, with their laughter tattooed on their faces… Brave or bold, carefree or heedless, happy or unaware, curious or stupid, bunch of blowballs, advertising their lives for nothing. ((While writing I’m trying to squeeze in somewhere the following sentence: engaged traveling is life relieving and a fastest way to get rid of your most resistant flaws.))
Honestly speaking, while traveling, I think my life was often spared thanks to the gateway of a blissful ignorance. If I knew what was all going on around me, I would have never left my doorstep, not even to get a loaf of bread. And that is what is going on in the heads of many of those who dislike traveling and fear for you who is traveling. A cartoon should be made from the created scenarios of your “loved ones” who diligently fear for yours everyday life while you’re away. It would be a mission-impossible-horror-thriller-animated movie, in which if you still haven’t been chopped out by a rusty tool or hit by a truck; a piano falls on your head at the street from the 11th floor eventually, which is good because you have already been infected by a deadly, unknown virus along the way.
What I have experienced is that the most of the people, sort of following your journey, miss, is that a dreadful experience you might pass on the way is you yourself and how you will get along with those who you’ve met on the way and how you will tangle your emotional roll coasters and how you will balance your physical and physiological energy throughout the journey, and how you will treat your prejudice you carry on with the suitcase or a backpack, along with your occasional stupidity, naivety. How to understand that sometimes the good natured attitude can lead you to truly problematic situation and then – in which ratio you should calibrate your open-heartedness and your healthy boundaries knowing that you will be staying at the certain place with certain people and their characters and their habits and their direct or indirect expectations and their family relationships, partner relationships, and overall atmosphere in the house, place, village, city, county you will be staying at.
The official road ends here.
Travelers rarely write about these issues on their journey because this is rather an intruding thing to do. Cause you reveal. Others and yourself. You reveal that travelling is often not at all cozy, relaxing, and sometimes not at all fulfilling, and can become very disturbing, heavy, bringing huge unease. Travelers blogs indulge mostly in how the others that they have met live, dine, consider and look like, but do not indulge in the narrator, themselves who can go through truly humiliating stories. And that – how, while travelling, one should learn to develop hard skin and when to apply it…
Travelling often requires superficiality and demands a superficial communication. This is often the only “way through” when it comes to encounters with scammers, conflict prone, impulsive, authoritarian, control freaks, offensive or easily offended and sneaky people with whom you want to part in a “civil way” just in sake of you having breakfasts you want to remember of. That’s how you “learn to behave”. This is what is often to be endured by your short or long term unknown hosts. You end up in someone’s home, house where there is always a set of agreed and disagreed (but sometimes more important) rules of the house and the energies that members of the family are dived in. You’re welcomed at someone’s house and you’re about to knock at their “family field” and live under the current atmosphere roof, which might be healthy or unhealthy. Mostly combination of both, cause we are all just humans belonging to a rather unhealthy civilization.
And, as a traveler, a guest, or a worker, volunteer, call it whatever, when staying at someone’s place longer than a day, you’re dealing with the coziness of your habits which might clash with someone else’s, with attitudes, tastes and distastes, sense of humour or a lack of one, sometimes even envy and often many doubts. This is as well what is to be found in a “travelling rose garden”, although not expected, or predicted. People’s characters deserve a sentence “not in my wildest dreams”… But people are people; the only way to love people is to accept them. Though job for a relaxing journey, isn’t it?
The only thing on my travels that I found really troublesome is the viewpoint I got towards different cold-heartedness, which flourished in people’s hearts, characters, habits, attitudes, comments or that “talkative-transparent” silence. The hardened skin of individuals I’ve come across legitimated inside of personalities and different roles people are stuck in, belonging to families petrified in weirdest combination of fixed roles and behaviours which pushed the intelligence necessary for kindness, open-heartedness out of the way.
Realizing someone’s closed heart is deeply unsettling and sorrowful. At least for me. This heart might be mine as well, I'm not an exception to this statement.
Until you yourself, me myself eventually get pissed off such attitudes and freaky characters and disrespect towards people and towards everything that life provides us with unconditionally. Closed-heartedness is an irritating phenomenon. In its core is actually a serious lack of gratitude and acknowledgment of a simple and astonishing fact that we have a life. We have a life. Life. To be alive! And that we are some weird walking beings with heartbeats and eyes and invisible tentacles who can actually sense everything outside and within and love, and be joyful, and be creative, and admire and be astonished and inspire and aspire… But no! It’s so popular to pack oneself in a tiny box of matches along with the hardened attitudes and growing animosity and die eventually in a tiny boxing piece of lifelong antagonistic matches.
When I travel I engage. I don't use camera a lot. I appreciate every encounter I had, although appreciating positive experiences is much easier, by no means! Still, long travels don't consist of just of excellent moments; they kind of imitate life which you've already been leading at home where most of the things are known. Travelling is a queen of uncertainty. It helps out in reducing the funny ideas that pop out through the trained life perfectionism and the civilized predictability. Travelling possess an intelligence of the events that occur that are serendipitous! Because when you’re not trying to pull off some joke through your rigid and therefore unattainable plans, you get rewarded by your journey. And that reward is often recognizable by serendipity – “an aptitude for making desirable discoveries by accident”, as put by Thesaurus.com.
Encounters which make your heart grow at high speed. <3
That is so, for travelling in flow imitates life. And it’s full of serendipitous moments that just need to be recognized as such. Every nice random talk with a stranger is part of such a fortunate scenario, observing the eyes, and soul (which is the same thing) wide open. That is real fortune. Or when someone is kind and open to share their stories with you, or when you enjoy in mutual curiosity.
Having eyes open and a free-flowing heart helps noticing and releasing very resistant flaws and everything one sabotages oneself with. This is happening throughout all those different encounters you have with nature, cities and people, positive and negative ones, that teaches you detaching. Because your life is literally on the way, just as all the places you visit are on your way… and then “that way” becomes “your way” and is constantly changing. As life is changeable, fluctuating. Just like the weather in Sweden! Due to the constant exchange of rain and sun you get many rainbows...
To travel and to be susceptible can be very tiring when bumping into hardened human shells and common rude behaviors of which most people aren’t aware of. Still, in the end, you get your rewards. Every time after I come back home (although this seems to be changing too) and get enough sleep, I feel as if I have been showered by my journey, no matter how exhausting it used be sometimes. I still choose to stay receptive and let my journeys remove my individual surplus with the sandpaper if needed. I travel to truly meet people, meet others, meet how I respond to something that I might like or dislike culturally, socially or individually. To meet everything that I believe I am not or I am or I supposed to be, to perceive beings, to get the grips of life… To give myself chances.
Engaged traveling isn’t an airy experience, or necessary simply a lovely pleasant experience. Sometimes you do feel like a flower, a blowball, if you woke up smoothly, or the “blowball” – the ultimate fool – thinking how stupid you were ending up where you momentary are. Traveling puts demands on you. It gives you tasks. It gives you signs. It is very life-indulging and demands you to be a responsible and sovereign individual. If you’re engaging, you get the gift of knowing others and letting them be whatever they are and stay peaceful within and under the same roof. Even being disappointed is a gift. You get the grip of what isn’t working in a certain situation, in a certain company and for you. Then you move on. And that is awesome. That you know your steps are made exactly according to your choices, that it is natural and necessary to move on all the time; that you’re not bind to anything or anyone, perhaps only still by what is left of your belief system.
I love people. I love their striving and their smiles, and their trying… In a way, more or less, I figured out, we are all trying to be better, although in very different ways. Even shockingly different ways. That is something truly universal. That grows everywhere. Just like dandelions.