This is a different type of post, and one that, as I sit here, is tough for me to write. So please bear with me as I take a few minutes to really bare my soul.
Some people travel because they enjoy seeing new places, meeting new people, trying new things. Some like the feel of relaxing and being pampered on a tropical beach. Others love the intellectual stimulation of exploring history, and still others for the palate expanding thrill of trying new foods.
I love all of these things. I’ve scrambled up the ruins of Angkor Thom in Cambodia with a local guide, backpacked across the width of Israel, had Sacher torte and coffee in a cafe in Vienna, and wandered in awe through the Museum of Gold in Bogota. And so much more. But while these experiences are amazing, they are not the reason I travel.
In 2016, I had an emotional breakdown. Due to a variety of circumstances I still can’t really talk about without falling apart, I decided I no longer wanted to live. The man I saw in the mirror was one I felt had no value.
It was in the immediate aftermath of this that my family took a weekend trip to Morro Bay in California. I stared at the water, watched the sun set, smelled the salt air, and thought… a lot. Who was I and how could I find that part of me I loved? I walked along the beautiful cliffs of the Central coast, stopped to admire the poppies in bloom, and it came to me. This is me, the most honest me. This isn’t the Jonathan who has to pretend to be happy, or the Jonathan who has to smile and nod as I am berated at work. This is the Jonathan who can be himself, can enjoy the simple things, can be calm and, most importantly, can be happy.
I had always traveled a lot, but in that moment, I knew why it was to become the most important part of my life. Travel is my escape, not running away FROM my life, but running TO my life. When I travel, I know myself on a deeper level than I am able to at home.
Since that day, I have made some major changes in my life. I still have to work full time, but it has become the means to an end, rather than an end in itself. I have resolved to work with others dealing with emotional issues, to try to help wherever I can before they get to the point I did. And I travel, until the sky and the sea and the mountains and the forests and the cities and the vistas, the ruins, the people, the food, and Jonathan all meet.