On Traveling and Contentment

(c) AB Raschke
(c) AB Raschke

I’ve been quiet on here for a while now, almost a month. I have sat down to write on multiple occasions, but I just couldn’t force anything out. A big part of me feels like I shouldn’t have to force something out, although I understand the reality of writing on a regular basis, but at the same time, this blog is a hobby, and I don’t want it to feel like homework. However, my silence and/or artist block is part of a larger trend in my life, and it is something that I feel inspired to discuss.

In August I took a second job, which was a questionable decision considering that I am currently a PhD student, and a TA, which is already a full time job, maybe more. But it was a major opportunity, and something that I was excited about, so I went for it, and luckily it has been a great experience. That being said, all the work has left me exhausted, and if I am being honest, burnt out. Burnt out to the point that I have almost no motivation to do a lot of the things that I love, including travel. I should probably mention that my wanderlust was also severely curtailed within the last year due to health complications that I am still struggling with now.

(c) AB Raschke
(c) AB Raschke

In any case, all of these things have led me to spending my weekends at home, doing a lot of what I do during the week… working and wasting time on social media. Life has become comfortable in some ways. The process of traveling is so draining, but it has also become monotonous. For a good while, I was content with things, however, and I really felt too tired to put much effort into doing anything other than getting the minimum amount of required work done each day. Lately, I am realizing that my contentment was more due to exhaustion than actually being happy with the direction that my life was taking.

Until last weekend, I hadn’t explored anywhere new since my trip to Puerto Rico. Of course, I don’t expect to be jetting across the globe every month, but I live in Arizona, a state that is full of natural beauty and cultural sites that are worth experiencing. There is little excuse for me to not get out and see new things, if that is what I love to do. But I wasn’t. I had a million excuses, and sometimes I didn’t even bother to make an excuse, it just wasn’t something that I was going to put the energy into doing.

(c) AB Raschke
(c) AB Raschke

All of these exhaustion and monotony has caught up with me lately though. I have been melancholy and increasingly sad for the past few weeks. There are a variety of things going on in my life that could cause this, but I think part of my current emotional state is due to this lack of exploration on my part. Seeing new places and learning new things certainly opens your mind and refreshes your thought processes. More so, as I so powerfully experienced in Japan, I think that there is an element of spirituality to it as well.

For almost as long as we have existed, humans have explored new landscapes, and set out into the unknown. I believe it is an integral part of what makes our species unique, and it can do so much to help us grow as individuals. Traveling, even if it is just to some new spot in your hometown, is a doorway to connecting with new people, and reconnecting with nature too. It can refresh us in so many ways, and I am learning through experience that life can feel stagnant for some of us if we don’t continue to go outside our bubble. So, let’s all keep getting out there and explore our little pockets of the planet, I think we will all be much happier for it.

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