Updated: Oct 22, 2020
You have to admit that our deepest instinct is the pursuit of beauty. There seems to be this quiet spark of splendor seeking in us, wouldn't you agree? Haven't you ever noticed that driving force behind all that we do? That quiet little voice that urges us into the exploration and pursuit of the sublime that is all around us?
Now, I can hear some of you saying, what does that small still voice have to do with travel? Well, as we all know, there are numerous ways that we can get to the top of the mountain. I want to take a moment and make a distinction regarding different modes of travel. Like most special moments in life, there is often a sense of balance that exists. It is in this balance that there exists both structure and improvisation. For a just moment, I would like to talk a little bit about the art of improvisational travel, or as I like to call it; travel jazz.
The jazz of travel you say? Yeah, I love me some good analogies. For those who are not familiar, jazz sheet music is typically written with a musical melody then composed with a number of bars without any indication of notes other than the chord that the that the musical environment is composed in. This section of the song can go on for some time and leaves an enormous amount of room for the musician to move around in. And for it to work……. for the magic to happen…. the soloist must rely on their connection to the muse. He must hold himself mindful and aware for the subtle inklings from inspiration and then act on them. For the sublime to occur, the artist must be a conduit for the spirit or the audience will recognize the work as being arranged and not truly inspired.
Inspired you say? Yes, inspired. What I am talking about is adventure with meaning and life breathed creativity into by the spirit of the moment.
Latin Inspirare “influence move, or guide (as to speech or action) through divine or supernatural agency or power” …Merriam Webster
The Latin origins of the word nods as well to the breathing of life into one’s life and actions. The ancients paid tribute to this force by giving it a name, Inspirare. It is with this wisdom that jazz musicians create some of the most creative musical art ever created. And so, we can approach our journeys in much of the same way, with a little bit of structure and a sprinkling of jazz. When we work towards a new adventure in this way, there can be many moments of reviewing and researching material and at the same time we can make room and prepare ourselves for the improvisational piece of adventure.
When reviewing a thesaurus, some interesting words associated with the history of study of inspiration arises; the adjectives instinctive and intuitive. These words speak to the early thinking that inspiration itself arises from a deeper place, a place that operates outside of the realm of logic and thought, into the area of, dare I say it, a sixth sense. You can follow the link between words and ideas all day but in the end the breath of thought needs to be acted on. Going out into the world and staying in the moment and mindful. As we are receptive to and, in the present, we are allowing the spirit to take us on a journey and lead us to experiences that we were meant to have and would not have thought from a place of logic. You can follow the link between words and ideas all day but in the end the breath of thought needs to be acted on. Going out into the world and staying in the moment and mindful. As we are receptive to and, in the present, we are allowing the spirit to take us on a journey and lead us to experiences that we were meant to have and would not have thought from a place of logic.
So, what exactly am I talking about here? Well, the forms are endless and your ways of going about this might be very different than mine, but I'd be perfectly happy to share with you some of the ways that I played a little jazz when traveling. After choosing a trip traveling jazz and inspiration that drives it can start from the very idea of the trip. In the past I've handed over travel plans to other members of my family and asked them to come up with something and let them choose where we’re going. Other times, most often the idea of where to go simply impresses upon me, and I go with it. I will spend and enjoy a fair amount of time researching the country to familiarize myself with what's there and some of the background and history to the climate. I will oftentimes make notes in my travel books on my impressions of the readings that I've done. And from that point on I'll leave it up to the fates. I know this is an odd way of doing things for some, but I'll have to say that is really worked out for me over the years, typically throwing a backpack over my shoulder and heading to an airport. I'll arrive at an international airport and oftentimes a large city with an initial reservation to a hotel to make the long trip as smooth as possible but from that point on it's time for the muse to start speaking. Spending a day or so in that particular area will give me a little time to acclimatize and open my eyes and ears to the New World that I'm in. From that point, on inspiration has spoken and to date, I have yet to have run out of ideas or regretted a single choice that I'd made when traveling. I’ve spent weeks sometimes even months in a new area, to finally returned back home and say to myself that I could not have planned that even better if I tried. Again, I say I understand, it’s an unusual way of doing things but this can also be a hybrid. I've also mixed the balance of planned and unplanned. I've made arrangements for a portion of the trip to be guided or structured while leaving the other portion opening and free. As well, by leaving things open, you give the opportunity for others in your group to share their inspirations and their observations also. If an idea can arise and the flexibility is there to allow it, you allow for that sense of spirit in others to be communicated who may not have gotten an opportunity to be part of the planning process. By allowing your co-travelers to be a part of the creative process, you are allowing them to experience firsthand the process of improvisational creativity and inspiration themselves. And, as we all know there's nothing but profound and transformative than the actual walking of an experience. As the Prophet Mohammad said, “Don’t tell me how educated you are, tell me how much you have travelled”. So, in the end I guess what I'm saying is…. coming back to the instinct to find beauty in everything around us. I'm encouraging everyone to have faith in that. To have faith that beauty exists out there and if you make space for it, it will arise. But remember, all things in balance. And each one of us has our own sense of balance. I urge you to find that that balance for yourself, the mix between the structured and unstructured. I also support that you make this part of your journey. That your adventure is a simply one step at a time. That it doesn't have to be a giant leap off the top of the mountain. If this is new for you take it in baby steps if that feels good, if you're so inspired. Trust that and go with it.
I encourage you to join along with our online community and share with us your conversations with your muse as I do the same. I look forward to hearing your inspirations and I look forward to seeing you out there. Gassho my soulful traveler.