travel restorative act



There are times when events in our lives cast us down in to the depths of depression. It isn’t that we’re depressive, or that we take meds to keep us on the right side of the grass, but rather our world seems to collapse quickly and with no silver lining. There are many effects of depression. We may become so consumed by a problem or debilitating blow that seeing the light at the end of the tunnel seems impossible. Or, we may be overworked, underpaid and stressed out, wondering what any of it matters anymore.

Temporary depression arises from an inability to reconcile one’s current view of the world with one’s current state. Your mind doesn’t know how to act, and your body can’t find the will to live for a mind without a purpose. This occurs when you deconstruct too fast. Deconstructing the mind is the process of breaking down rigid rules that have been indoctrinated into your daily life. This is a good thing; it means you are growing. But, the growing pains can hurt. During this stressful time you may undergo panic attacks, nervous breakdowns, and manic (bipolar) depression symptoms. Bipolar disorder causes such things as sleeplessness, thoughts of worthlessness, pessimism, loss of energy, and persistent headaches or body pains.

When the rules we have lived by break down too fast your mind doesn’t know how to function, as you suddenly call into question your previous mode of operation and question every premise. When a previous way of living fails what is one to do? When a person is left stagnant, lost and depressed, stuck in a rut, and trying to get by in a world where everything one thought was true turns out to not be the case any longer, where does one turn?

There are many ways to deal with stress and depression, such things as medications, friends, toughing it out, and therapy that are only half-measures. While they do help, there is a more effective way to handle temporary depression. In this drug-for-cures, quick fix world there is no shortage of meds that will get you legally floating higher than the clouds in a matter of hours. But, meds like that are only an escape to a temporary problem that needs to be worked through, not ignored. Temporary problems can become permanent problems if left by the wayside.

You could find a friend’s shoulder to cry on. For me, this is never an option. I don’t have many friends, and the ones I do have wouldn’t want their shoulders getting wet from my tears. Plus, it is tough to find sympathy and direction from even friends, as when the rubber meets the road they have no idea what you’re going through. After all, can we ever really sympathize with another? We’ve never had that same experience, and, to some degree, will always be disconnected from the situation by our inability to fully understand the situation.

You could fight it. Yeh, that’s the one I like. Tough it out and you end up compromising yourself in a million other ways. Maybe not a million, but definitely some: maybe you’ll drink more, eat more, or stop working out. When you are lost the first thing to go is your health. See Maslow’s hierarchy of needs.

Finally you could choose therapy. Yes, it is always good to get help from a professional if you are really down in the dumps and lost, but eventually the only one that can turn life around is you. So, I recommend a non-traditional solution: travel.

When everything about life loses meaning and becomes superficial travel can restore us. People spend millions of dollars a year on therapy and anti-depression drugs, why not spend some of that money on travel? When events suffocate us, and become too close to put in perspective travel breaks us free from the toxic environment and allows us to live again.

Travel allows us to encounter new people, new places, and new perspectives, the perfect infusion of the new to help us break free from short-term, temporary depression, and treats symptoms associated with bipolar disorder and panic attacks . In a word, traveling is life-affirming and fills us up again when depression is laying us low.

Most importantly, travel forces us to reengage our minds again, move past the process of deconstruction, and think to survive. There is no in between with travel. You either do it or you don’t. If you fail at it you die or get hurt, mugged, or lost. If you succeed you avoid these painful things. The cut throat business of travel requires your brain to think again, and act again. In one sentence, travel gives you purpose again.

Travel is a symbolic page turning in the book of life. It is the beginning of a new chapter. Many of our problems and stress can be cured by letting ourselves live again. We all need to get out of our bubbles from time to time and remove ourselves from the closeness of a toxic situation. Think of it as re-calibrating. Every machine needs a realignment from time to time, the copier, the furnace, the ones that help build cars, why should the human machine be any different?