There are those who ask me why I love to travel. In a few words: the exploration, the reversion to a simple and spare life, the crisp solitude of being alone in a new culture and unfamiliar language. Quite simply, stripped of my accustomed ways of being, I open my eyes and see. I remember who I am (and who I am not) and redefine the ways I want to experience my finite number of years. Travel sets me free to choose anew and gives me focus.
Below are a few things I’ve learned about myself during a cultural immersion week in Orvieto, Italy, and a handful of images to remind me when I’m tempted to give in to big city ways and forget.
I Want to Live a Life
I want to live a life on the edge — a life between consciousness and culture, between solitude and community, with easy access to the gifts of both.
I want to live a life where city walls both shield and embrace, but also beckon me past my accustomed boundaries.
I want to live a life engulfed in scents and tastes and textures, with visual surprise around every corner, be it a new village or a just-unfurling jasmine bud.
I want to live a life where the strong and stalwart and majestic serve as constants for the fragile, a land where the porosity and lightness of stone do nothing to diminish its fortitude.
I want to live a life where both the dead and the living are honored, and joyously — a life where Etruscan tombs from 400 BC sit beneath the waving of wild cherries, and a waiter from lunch three days ago will wave you down in the lane for a smile.
A life where it’s okay to say hello to anyone you pass, to acknowledge life wherever it exists, including your own.
I want to live a life on many levels, from the surety and abundant offerings of ground and field to the communal path, the surprise and joy of rooftop gardens, the soaring art on soaring cathedrals to cotton ball skies and Jupiter shining above the lane after dinner in Charlie’s gardens.
I want to live a life where children in gingham smocks gather magnolia leaf bouquets and squeal with delight, where song is a part of ever day’s curriculum, where physical safety is a given.
I want to live a life as many-layered as this cypress, this town, these rooftops.
I want to live a life with as much community as these vibrant streets and as much peace as these convent gardens.
I want to live a life as broad as this vista, completely unbounded by my psyche and conventions, my habits and my fears. I want a life with such clarity and vision that all of my options are recognizable.
I want to live a life where unexpected joy exists stunningly, and sometimes consists only of a gathering of simple greenery. Where the breezes dance, where the air is cool and clear and food holds the tastes of sunshine, rain, and origin.
People ask me why I travel. I travel to pull myself out of daily habits and rituals that keep me from growth. I travel to empty and refill my soul, to recapture moments that makes my heart beat faster.
So Go. See. Assimilate. Love It Up and let it make you better. And do whatever it takes to sear those images and awakenings onto your heart for the days ahead. Take photos. If there’s one thing I’ve learned taking 57 million photos of life, it’s this: turn around. From every position, there are at least two views, and they will constantly surprise you.
P.S. I’m very blessed to be traveling for six weeks in Italy and Ireland. Endless thanks to Adventures in Italy for giving me the fabulous opportunity to teach, to the loving and adventurous group that accompanied me to Italy, to Olive Stack Gallery in Listowel Ireland for gifting me an entire month to explore and create, to the inimitable and wondrous Olive herself, and to Laura McRae Hitchcock, best residency partner on the planet. You can read more about my Irish adventures for the month of June at https://exciraanddelira.wordpress.com. Love to All!