As I sit here, the evening before we head off on the road again, after five weeks in Camping Los Pinos, Denia, Spain, I find myself very reflective. Not so much recalling all the amazing things we’ve seen or places we’ve visited. Instead I find myself musing over the greatest paradox, which seems to be flirting with my travelling mind recently.
Travel is as much about being still as it is about movement.
It is easy to conjure up the image of travel being a movement from one place to another, whether that be a necessary commute to work or to visit the shops. More poignant a concept perhaps, is where travel is marketed as the mode by which we arrive at a holiday destination. Beyond this, travel, for us, has become an integrated part of the way we now choose to live our lives, as we nomadically drive towards a new ‘home’ for a night or three. Our experience is so much more than a means to an end, it is an essential part of the journey.
And yet as a meditation teacher, I have come to appreciate the art of stillness, of being rather than doing and its importance in our life’s journey through the chaos, the Matrix (as we like to call it) and day-to-day routines. Although if you had said to me that, on our travels in the last year, we would learn to see travel as being a resting verb as opposed to a moving verb, I would have thought you quite mad. Strangely though, this is exactly what has happened and we are learning to embrace the art of travelling stillness as we breathe in an overnight home, a city or a region.
A lot of last year we were on the move; visiting one UNESCO cathedral or city after another. Covering thousands of miles, crossing country borders, making rendez-vous with friends and family and experiencing some incredible sights. We definitely lived and breathed TRAVEL’s traditional persona. Yet there was very little time to travel with stillness, to be with a place and to leave a little of our souls behind. This year we promised ourselves it would be different. More time to smell the sea air, people watch at the local cafe bar, shop in the local markets and get to know the back streets of a town rather than the route to the campsite.
And so far this year, we have fallen into a great being pace. It has been lovely to experience fully the spirit of Denia; its drama with snow, hurricane storm winds and raging seas. It has been delightful to visit the non-tourist spots that are tucked away from the main highways that the tourist guides don’t promote on A4 posters. What a joy to get to know the nice restaurants, the best beers in town and when the market vibrates with local artisans’ stalls of colourful treasure. To cycle the paths that hide the real secrets of a town and see the maze of roads unfold before your eyes. To take in the scent of the orange groves and watch the almond blossom flourish as it is kissed by winter’s warming sunshine. All this has been a pleasure as we practise our new travel stillness.
Yet now, after five weeks of being still, our feet have become itchy, our tyres ready to stretch out on the tarmac and our wanderlust yearning to explore the vast expansion of sights and sounds that this country has to offer. No longer can we travel with stillness. We must move, we must fulfil our passion for exploration on a wider scale. So what has this period taught us? We’ve learnt that to travel with movement without stopping is not quality travelling. Travel is, after all, not just simply a means to an end. Travel is the uncovering of pleasures that each country has woven into the fabric of its culture. And yet travelling stillness equally has its end point for us too. To be still for too long creates an inertia that steals away something from our nomadic spirit. And so we leave Denia with grateful hearts as it has shown us about travel’s balance. Travel is neither movement nor stillness as separate identities; it is a blend of the two, such that it serves the heart’s joy and the mind’s curiosity in equal measure.
For the friends we’ve made, we thank you. For the experiences we’ve had we are grateful and we leave Denia richer in so many ways.
So onwards we move to a richer travelling experience that is now coloured with a greater awareness of how travel is a true blend of stillness and movement. We look forward to the adventures ahead that somehow only movement to a new space can offer and yet with a promise to create the stillness to appreciate its unique heart-beat.