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Going on an Adventure Helps You Focus

Posted by on March 15, 2012

It’s true, I’ve hardly written on this trip. December was amazing because I had minimal distractions. I got up in the morning, made breakfast, grabbed my laptop and walked down the hill into town, sat in a café for a few hours, downloaded podcasts, walked back up the hill, went jogging, made a snack and then spent the evening with my family, either going to holiday parties, making dinner or watching movies. There was some variation in pattern, but the variables were the same.

I could walk this whole town in 25 minutes.

For the last 20 hours I’ve been alone in a strange house in a small town in the middle of Germany. The steps that led me here are incidental, but it’s just interesting that I’m not having the “go into the city and walk around and look in shop windows” all day experience I thought I’d be having in Heidelberg. It’s a nice change of pace. And I’ve been doing that thing that I do when I’m alone for the first time in a while, which is really not much, but it’s a slow process of decompression. It involves a certain amount of walking around looking at houses, reading, music listening, trolling facebook and ultimately feeling disgust with facebook and then beginning a process of deciding what I need to change in my life.

I found a blog entry the day before yesterday titled, “If you’re stuck, go on an adventure.” I laughed because my travel companion an I were about to embark on our journey from London to Heidelberg, but we realized we didn’t have a place to stay because we didn’t inform our host of our early arrival. Fortunately, Jae used to live here and knows people, so it worked out, but there was a window of uncertainty where we joked about whether it would be better to sleep in a train station or the airport.

The point of the blog entry is that when you’re on an adventure, you start to realize what you like and what you don’t like, and it helps you solidify your ideas of what’s important to you. Or at least, that’s my takeaway. I should probably go read the blog entry again and see if that’s true.

Maybe that’s what this blog entry is about – about me deciding what’s important.

I came on this trip to shake things up for myself. I needed to meet new people. I needed new teaching situations. I needed to work with people with different backgrounds and I needed new scenery. I was stuck in a rut and not getting stuff done.

I’m still not getting stuff done, but I’m feeling more solid in my purpose and intentions. And I’ve figured a few things out.

  1. Good people are really important. As someone who has identified as a bit of an introvert the past few years, I’ve been surprised at how happy I’ve been to connect with people since January when I came down off the mountain. It was like some switch changed in me, and I can be really content in a group or just hanging with one person. But more than that, I really value time spent with people who are spontaneous, fun, flexible and have interesting things to say.
  2. Food is a big deal. I’ve obsessed about it on this trip. I love food and there are weird and interesting things to eat wherever I go and I want to try them all. I also know that certain foods make me feel like crap and others give me energy all day long. Food reward is rearing its ugly head and I find myself eating even when I’m not hungry, just because I want the sensation of taste. I’m looking forward to going home where I can find the highest quality foods to sustain me and avoid the temptations. I have fantasies of clearing out my cupboards, getting rid of my fridge and replacing it with a smaller fridge that will hold a week’s worth of food for one person. Mostly I’ll store eggs, sausage, meat and cheese in it and get my veggies from the garden.
  3. I miss having a rhythm. There have been times when I’ve been able to get to bed before 2am, get up and do a morning thing like go for a run, or write and have tea. But then there are chunks of days when I’m at an event and am slave to the event schedule. Right now I fantasize that I’ll change my schedule when I go home and get up at 6 every morning and write. I’ll spend the afternoon working and the evenings focusing on things like music, dance and connecting with friends.
  4. Re-purposing myself is paramount. I love dance and I love teaching dance but it’s not the only thing I want to do or be. I feel the urges to express myself in other ways and the fact that I haven’t written or played music at all lately is starting to make my creative bones feel brittle.

One thing I’ve figured out about traveling is that doing it till I feel like I can’t take it anymore is probably one of the best things for me. In 2005, I drove around the country for three and a half months. I remember sitting my car outside the evening dance in St. Louis, crying because I wanted to stop moving and just stay in one place for a while. I was probably also ridiculously sleep deprived at the time. But, when I finally got to the suburban apartment in Berwyn I was renting from a friend, I was so damn happy to just be sitting still, I didn’t care about living in the suburbs.

I have three more weekends of dance events and tons of more people to see before I go home. It will be a sweet ending, sweet because I’m still happy being on the move, but I know I’ll soon have the satisfaction of going home to a sunny springy Chicago. That’ll be on April 2nd, for those of you who want to know…

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