Travel Therapy

Three weeks ago, I found myself staring at the walls, feeling trapped and indifferent. When faced with particular situations (which I’ve unsuccessfully tried to blank out), my subconscious hasn’t let me rest until I’ve processed the problem. For example, if there’s been a dispute at my workplace, I’ve gone home and ignored the issue using mediums such as my smartphone or the television. My attempt to find “inner peace” has been thrown: I’ve ended up having nightmares about the event; falling sick due to being inadvertently stressed.

I’m not planning on turning this into a pity party – I  actually think it’s perfectly normal to be overwhelmed by life sometimes (especially living in a fast-paced city like London). Waking up early to be met with grey skies and concrete, holding out for pay day and spending all my earnings on bills and travel; constantly looking to the future wanting to achieve more, feel more and be more isn’t exactly my idea of serenity. London has plenty to offer sure, but that doesn’t mean it’s an easy ride. For instance, not many people my age can afford to rent a place, let alone buy. If these are the common problems my generation face, all we have to do now is add some fall outs, heartaches and health scares to the mix to realize life can feel pretty fucking shit.

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I have this constant need to control everything so that my life feels orderly. When a curve ball is thrown, I find myself wanting to hold on and solve the problem, even when I know I can’t. Thinking too much about the past and future is typically a waste of thought – I guess that’s why it’s so important stay present.

Two weeks ago I went on the adventure of a lifetime. My cousin and I (along with a couple of friends) visited Rio De Janeiro – a HUGE tick off my bucket list. Before the trip,  I’d been contemplating whether to go for therapy – you know – just to offload and get an objective, less biased point of view. What Rio offered me? More support than a shoulder to cry on. Black and white swirling designed pavements accompanied by blue skies, sandy beaches and tall trees all introduced itself to us as Copacabana. The vibrant locals, sitting outside of our apartment playing indigenous music, assisted the tropical theme from the moment we stepped out of our taxi. That feeling of aliveness – despite the politically corrupt and tense undercurrents – followed us wherever we went. I was finally able to surrender to the thrill of the moment, fearless, whatever the outcome.

Just imagine a built up, spacious, wondrous city, thriving in the middle of the mountains – everything about it dazzled me. From the gritty, expressive street art, to the friendliness of the towering palm trees. The magical lure of  architecture was met by a beautiful rawness of the favelas and it was just…wow. Everywhere I looked I was reminded of a world that didn’t centre around me and I was freed by it – liberated from self – no longer troubled by my thoughts and just an explorative observer.

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There was something I found godly about rekindling with nature, our real earth, usually hidden beneath concrete slabs and foreign objects. Being able to hike through forests, swim the ocean and lay under a blazing sun brought me right back to the present.  As well as this, there was something rather magical about our natural encounters with strangers, no matter how big or small the interaction.

Think about it. We live in a world where we use Facebook, Tinder, Instagram and Twitter – we are constantly providing conscious images of ourselves, we seek recognition implicitly; putting ourselves under a microscope for everyone to judge. To then go and meet people without preconceptions, knowing nothing about us and judging based on the then and now opened me up in a way most humbling. This for me, was and is always a healing and necessary experience when traveling. I returned home with a little more room in my heart for those outside of my circle.

Laughter happened a lot during our stay. I’d say that at least every second hour we’d laugh until tears fell from our eyes – the kind of laughter where you gasp for air and feel like you’ve done about 100 sit-ups. Isn’t it funny (no pun) that in moments of laughter the mind can’t think of anything else? I shall be keeping our jokes like souvenirs, that way every time I feel a sadness emerge, I can reminisce back to our hilarious times.

I don’t want to bore you too much with my holiday stories, but there’s one particular, inexpensive moment, which will be etched in my mind for as long as I can remember. It was one of our last nights in Rio, a cool evening, where we rented these bikes and simply rode up and down all the posts of Copacabana. I had music in my ears, the wide streets were lit up with trees on either side; the sky and ocean followed as we rode. It was this moment, where nothing else mattered. I remembered myself as a six year old, the first time I’d learnt to ride a bike without stabilizers and that exhilarating feeling of freedom. The fact that I could control the bike, monitor my own speed and provide myself balance is like a metaphor for the way I wish to deal with life.

Returning to London, the first thing I did after 15 hours of traveling was rearrange my bedroom. It sounds crazy but I needed the energy of my little to shift. It was a new chapter. I know this post will resonate with anyone who loves to travel ’cause the truth is, we’re humans, not robots. We need time out to reflect, to accept, to learn and to move forward. There is no place that captured my attention the way Rio did – in fact, there is not even a man who I fell for as quickly. We live in a magical world with so much beauty and once we are exposed to it…Well, that bitterness of life becomes that tiny bit sweeter.

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