The Journey Measured in Friends

Last night, I travelled the world. From my chair on the beach in the Dominican Republic, I visited Ireland, Madrid, London, Canada, Argentina, Italy, and Uganda. I learned about political unrest, national dishes, international aid, and family dynamics. I became aware of fascinating differences and humbling similarities, all from people I had just met.

When travelling, I find that I share more of myself—in ways I haven’t with even my closest friends. I have listened more intently to stories that inspired and stories that broke my heart. I have rediscovered a desire to deeply know people, and have been moved by their desire to deeply know me. I’ve crammed an entire relationship into a weekend and I’ve fallen in love.

In just a small step-up from the “Fight Club”-single serving airplane friends, why are travel relationships so powerful? What makes people share, listen, laugh, dance, so much easier than in their ‘regular’ lives?

Perhaps it is a sense of urgency that makes travel relationships so powerful. If you’re lucky, you might have a few days—though too often,  even less time—to discover everything you could want to know about a person.

Maybe, it’s being far from home. Being outside of our normal communities and comfort zones makes us vulnerable. We let go of reservations and ask or share whatever is on our mind. It seems as though the notion of travel, a little like college, gives us a clean slate. We can be whoever we’d like to be.

I think travel is a risk, and it opens you up to taking risks on people too.

This morning, the good-byes seemed as though we were parting with childhood friends. Travel had turned singleserving friends into partners in adventure. In a rare moment of vulnerability, these good-byes made me choke up.… Read more

We aught to saunter reverently. An idea from the great John Muir

On a Sierra Club Outing, author Albert Palmer tells of a conversation he had with John Muir on the trail. He asked Muir, “someone told me you did not approve of the word “hike.” Is that so?” His blue eyes flashed, and with his Scotch accent he replied:

“I don’t like either the word or the thing. People ought to saunter in the mountains – not hike! Do you know the origin of that word ‘saunter?’ It’s a beautiful word. Away back in the Middle Ages people used to go on pilgrimages to the Holy Land, and when people in the villages through which they passed asked where they were going, they would reply, ‘A la sainte terre,’ ‘To the Holy Land.’ And so they became known as sainte-terre-ers or saunterers. Now these mountains are our Holy Land, and we ought to saunter through them reverently, not ‘hike’ through them.”

Join Onwards for a trip and saunter reverently through mountains, oceans, waterfalls, rainforest, and more.

– John Muir, as quoted by Albert W. Palmer, The Mountain Trail and its Message (1911) pages 27-28 – excerpted in A Parable of Sauntering .… Read more