April 2015

Back Home Again


My husband John and I recently returned after 4 months away. Our trip was full of wondrous moments, and now I find myself digesting the experiences, lessons learned, relationships formed as well as renewed, and the dazzling array of sights and activities. In doing so, I am reflecting on the gifts that travel offers.

I think travel is like a “re-boot” on physical, intellectual and emotional levels. If computers and other devices need an occasional re-boot, then maybe we humans do, too. It clears the debris, updates the system, and offers a fresh start. This metaphor, like most, will eventually break down, but the idea holds true. Returning home offered a bit of a jolt to me. And through that jolt I feel energized in renewing my commitments to the many elements that comprise my life here.

Countless times during the trip I was almost overwhelmed with gratitude. And yet, even in the midst of such keen enjoyment, I reached a point when it seemed time to go home. And now that I am back, I am thankful for my home, my friends, my health, my work, and my life as a whole.

Baha’u’llah wrote “Bring thyself to account each day . . . “in the context of preparing ourselves for the unknown, including physical death. This means to me that reflecting on actions and attitudes prompts examining my own heart, learning my lessons, and confirming my goals.

Self-reflection is similar to meditation in many ways. As a Baha’i I think of prayer as talking to God, while in meditation He is talking to me. Whatever may be a person’s views toward “God” as an entity or a concept, this can be thought of as an exchange, much like breathing. Breathe in, breathe out. Pray, meditate. Ask, be answered. There is a rhythm as well as timing intrinsic in this sequence. In a quiet moment I can think more clearly and receive inspiration.

Not everyone has the opportunity to travel. And among those who do, a long trip to far-away places may not be feasible. On the other hand, we all have a chance to “travel” in non-literal ways. Surely one of the gifts of travel is to experience variety and diversity. To fulfill this desire to go somewhere different, we can explore our own neighborhoods or towns. To meet people, we can join a new organization or volunteer somewhere outside of our usual places. For exotic experiences, we can try virtual travel, cook new foods, read books, listen to music, watch movies or otherwise get immersed in cultures other than our own. And with so much going on, we can make a point of sharing our travels with others – seeing travel as part of our personal stories and life journeys.

I can’t predict what sorts of travel will be in my own future. Or even if there will be any at all, though I hope there will be. But what I can predict is that I will continue to search for the gems within all of my journeys. And I can show my gratitude by encouraging others to stretch and travel their own world. Whatever a person’s “world” may be, there is richness within it.


© Jaellayna Palmer 2015