Yearning for the Past During Travels

Was there every a time where, even though things are going incredibly in the present moment, and the future that lies ahead of you looks so promising, you sometimes end up looking back and missing the past you’ve left behind?

I wonder why that is. Why am I sometimes hit with a sensation of wanting to go back to the way things were, though things are so much better now? Why do we pine for things that weren’t necessarily the best for us?

I am filled with such a deep sense of appreciation for where I am presently. Are there regrets? Yes. Are there things I should have done but didn’t do? Yes. But there’s no changing that now. After all, life is a learning process, and that means making many mistakes before getting it right.

Problem is, I feel like I’ve made nothing but mistakes this year abroad. There are so many things that I should have done better, that I could have done better. Opportunities I missed out on as a result of getting caught up in the world of travel, travel, travel, and an extreme aversion to laying down any sort of roots or foundation.

While I realize that this is a part of the process, and I’m young and this is sort of what I should be doing, I’m anxious to get back into what I was working so hard to do in New York: lay the foundation for my career and my life.

That’s not to say that the little that I did accomplish here is worthless. I think I learned a lot. A fraction of what I could have and should have learned, but I learned a lot. My Spanish is a million times better than what it was, I’ve met a few incredible people who have treated me like family and who I already cherish deeply.

I wonder if I actually grow more in New York than I have here for this past year. Sounds silly, because I’m a major believer that traveling is growing expedited into a very short time period. And I have experienced that myself. But I think that most of my growth that I’ve done this year in Spain comes from committing a large number of mistakes and largely learning what not to do, as opposed to what to do.

I suppose it’s natural to miss the familiar, mundane and sometimes as negative as it was. I probably miss it because it was easy. The foundation was already set. I knew my way around the city, I could tell you how to get anywhere by train, my friends that I have known for years were there, and that relationship (we all have that relationship) distorted as it was, was a habit…a bad habit only too easy to return to, and a bad habit only too easy to miss when you’re defenses are down and you’re overwhelmed with the new and unfamiliar and are craving roots.

What’s funny is that as travelers, we’re mainly adverse to laying roots. The thrill and excitement comes from the daily change, the immersion, the new people and cultures. We avoid routine like a plague, we get restless when we’re in one town for more than three weekends. But, for me at least, as much as I swear up and down that I’m not going back, and that I’m not ready to settle, I think a teeny, tiny part of me is beginning to crave that. Though I suppose that when I say settle, I mean at least try to get my life and career back on track, continue my development as a teacher, further my education, begin to think about and work towards the contributions I want to make to the field of education.

I suppose I needed this year to get a good sized portion of the travel itch out of my system. Traveling two or three times a month was what I was craving at the moment. But now, I’m ready to get serious again. That’s not to say I’m going to stop traveling. I’ll still be in Spain next year (Gijon, Asturias, by the way!!! I failed to write about that until now!), and the north of Spain is all unexplored territory for me. Still…I’m past the messing around stage and floating around just to float. I’m more than ready to ground myself again, and re-focus on my larger goals. Time to go from just traveling for the sake of travel to traveling and advancing at the same time.



3 thoughts on “Yearning for the Past During Travels

  1. M. Hatzel says:

    Don’t be surprised when, looking back on this experience ten or even twenty years from now, that you find you still are learning from it. It takes us a while to mine the full potential of the rich data that comes with our lives. (Daniel Gilbert writes on how this works, to answer your first question in the post. See Stumbling on Happiness. He also did a TED talk, for a short hand version.)

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