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Why Travel/Finding Magic Everywhere

Updated: Mar 8, 2023

When T was about 2 years old, we went on a long awaited trip to the beach on the coast of North Carolina. It was a two hour drive from my mom’s house in Durham and T excitedly kicked his legs against his car seat in anticipation, shovel and pail clutched in his chubby fingers.

We finally arrived, and parallel parked on the sandy shoulder off the state highway, a few blocks away from the ocean. As we unloaded the cooler, beach chairs and backpacks, T unbuckled and plunked himself down in the sand next to the car and started digging; “I love the beach!’ he exclaimed, ready to play all day on the dirty highway shoulder. He was disappointed and frustrated when we told him this wasn’t the beach, we still had a little ways to walk.

There are countless times when I am amazed and amused by the places and times our kids find joy and entertainment. A mud puddle at the bottom of our front steps, the box a gift came in, a dirty parking lot full of old bottle caps.

As we contemplated fulltime travel, and especially after we bought the RV, I seriously doubted our decision. Our kids don’t need the wonder of the National Parks when Jesse would be just as happy with any old wall or rock to climb and jump off and T’s main interest is in hanging out with friends. I too find my joy in living in a community, knowing my neighbors and our garden.

I’ve continued to ask this question of “Why travel?” as we’ve traveled for almost this whole year. As many wiser people have said, “Where ever you go, there you are.” I believe that is true, and yet travel has changed us. Our struggles don’t go away but something else emerges too.

Living in new places decenters the reality and culture we are used to. Depending on where we are, the food, landscape, language, politics, overall culture of an area is different than our ‘norm’ it helps us be more adaptable and flexible.

Traveling also helps jiggle loose awe, that may be hibernating when we’re in our usual spots. The awe of experiencing the quiet peace of stepping into a redwood trunk for the first time or staring into the hole in the earth that is the Grand Canyon. Experiencing this awe, reminds my body what that feels like and perhaps strengthens a neural pathway that I can access more readily.

We have found leaving the known patterns of our home life helps rattle some of the ruts we fall in in our home. We use our phones less. We are outside more. We are in closer proximity to one another.

Justin and Jesse have a motto when they are exploring together, “We find magic everywhere.” We never know what will capture our imagination- it could be in other people’s trash, in a good spot for skipping rocks, or an old log that becomes a pirate ship.

We find magic when we follow the ‘yes’, the opening or excitement. It might mean spending what was intended to be a multi-mile hike finding salamanders in one spot. We are currently parked overnight in a Walmart parking. T made a magical spot in Walmart in the paper towel section where he created a fort (yes, everything was returned to the shelves neatly).

I love to travel and I also love to be home. While our choice this year has involved the former, I also know there is magic in our .04 acre of a backyard at home, as there in the thousands of acres that is a Yellowstone National Park. There is magic in the sandy parking spot on the side of the highway as there is in the magnificent Atlantic Ocean.

As I grow older, may the treasured places become infinite. May they include nearly every moment I find myself in during the brief time that is my life.

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