Last Words Before Travel

Every week for the past 8 weeks, I’ve been sending our Peru travelers an email for information warming them up for next week’s trip. Here’s the final letter I just sent out. You can read and pretend you’re coming along.

Here’s the letter:

Life begins at the end of your comfort zone. – Neale Donald Walsch

Dear Peru travelers,

I’m sitting in my office chair this morning, going though all my teaching files thinking about what I want to teach you. I’m preparing your handouts, looking at poems, readings, prompts and class ideas. This means we’re getting close. And my suitcase is 3/4 packed.

I know you that you are probably all where I am—freaking out about how much you have to do to wrap up things at home and get ready for departure.

I just want you to know it will all be okay. Whatever you get done will get done and whatever you don’t will wait until you return. Interestingly, our two youngest kids, both in college, came with us on one of our Write, Travel, Transform trips to Vietnam, a few years ago, and their idea of packing was to throw a few things in a small suitcase at the last minute. They didn’t read any of Mom’s preparatory emails or think about the trip ahead of time. I told them, “As long as you have your passport and we have a credit card, you’re golden.” And you will be, too.

A few days from now, the undone will be put in the LATER pile, you’ll have your bags packed, and it will be time to let go of your life at home. You can let go of everything that’s unfinished and you will. (And a week from now, you will be so glad you did.)

I also want to assure you that it’s common to have some anxiety about a big trip like this as it gets closer. But I promise that we’re in good hands. Laura Tyson run a great travel company and Brenda, our tour guide, has been bringing people to Peru for many years.

Still, part of travel, one of the best parts of travel, is giving up control and stepping into the unknown. That’s what we’re going to be doing. All of us individually. All of us together. Before long, we’ll all be part of a traveling community.

I look forward to meeting you at the airport—or welcoming you all in Peru!

And now, a poem to bless your journey:

For the Traveler

Every time you leave home,
Another road takes you
Into a world you were never in.

New strangers on other paths await.
New places that have never seen you
Will startle a little at your entry.
Old places that know you well
Will pretend nothing
Changed since your last visit.

When you travel, you find yourself
Alone in a different way,
More attentive now
To the self you bring along,
Your more subtle eye watching
You abroad; and how what meets you
Touches that part of the heart
That lies low at home:

How you unexpectedly attune
To the timbre in some voice,
Opening in conversation
You want to take in
To where your longing
Has pressed hard enough
Inward, on some unsaid dark,
To create a crystal of insight
You could not have known
You needed
To illuminate
Your way.

When you travel,
A new silence
Goes with you,
And if you listen,
You will hear
What your heart would
Love to say.

A journey can become a sacred thing:
Make sure, before you go,
To take the time
To bless your going forth,
To free your heart of ballast
So that the compass of your soul
Might direct you toward
The territories of spirit
Where you will discover
More of your hidden life,
And the urgencies
That deserve to claim you.

May you travel in an awakened way,
Gathered wisely into your inner ground;
That you may not waste the invitations
Which wait along the way to transform you.

May you travel safely, arrive refreshed,
And live your time away to its fullest;
Return home more enriched, and free
To balance the gift of days which call you.

~ John O’Donohue ~

In the spirit of adventure,

Laura

A mind that is stretched by a new experience can never go back to its old dimensions.

– Oliver Wendell Holmes

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