In whichever direction I look there are mountains. It is february in Guatemala and it ought to be colder. But instead me is enjoying the sun on a rooftop in volcano heartland, and for the first time in years I catch myself with the realization how much I really like to do ab-so-lutely nothing.
Nothing is of course still subjective. A regular day in Xela, the city which was providing the magnificent surrounding views, would still involve several kilometres of walking through town. But it would also involve healthy breakfasts and lunches at Monte Alto. It would also include even healthier amounts of coffee. I even managed to sit in the Parque America, the central square, with an e-book and see life pass by in slow-motion. Elderly people feeding the pigeons, kids playing, tourists reading. Did I mention I can rarely find the peace to read a book?
It’s not a coincidence that only in Central America I was finally able to structure my thoughts into words into my personal mission. For that I first needed time and peace of mind to read Johnson’s book about long-term decision making, time to read another book about finding one’s personal mission, and time to let my mind flow freely on the beach of El Tunco and beyond to distill all these ideas and thoughts into some coherent paragraphs.
Breaking up routines
That’s the beauty of traveling, of breaking up your routines. We are in Groundhog Day mode at home, always repeating ourselves and our activities and our patterns and our flaws and strengths.
When we are on the road, nothing is as usual. There is another book of Steven Berlin Johnson that describes this perfectly. ‘When I moved from the east coast to the west coast’, he writes, Every little thing I needed to do, from taking public transport to going to the supermarket, required an effort. Life had become at least twice as intense.’
That’s also a beautiful metaphor for the art of traveling. It makes all your experiences much more intense and memorable, because they require a conscious effort. There is no routine. Which creates voids in your daily life, to digest what happened and to think about what the future could bring.