Friday, August 20, 2010

10 Reasons I’m Not Selling Everything I Own and Traveling the World

My love for traveling has taken me many places in my short 24 years of life. I have amazing friends in Mexico I visit at least yearly. I’ve almost been arrested in Athens, Greece, for not validating my metro ticket (three words: bribe the cop). I’ve met Great Britain’s former Prime Minister Gordon Brown outside a hotel on the northern coast of Wales.

The city of Paris still inspires me when I close my eyes and remember walking out of Sacre Coeur and having my senses overcome with awe at the sight, sounds and smells as the chilled night wind blew my scarf into the empty sky behind me and the entire city sparkled just like in the movies. Flipping through a book I bought at the Vatican and remembering Michelangelo’s incredible art encourages me to persevere when a task seems daunting and the end isn’t in sight.

I spent four months living in a real castle nestled in England’s green countryside. Nearly ten years ago in Haiti I met a little boy, T-Jim, whose picture still sits on my desk in a frame that says, “Memories such as these are treasures of the heart.”

I can’t watch the travel channel because it makes me restless. I can’t flip through vacationing magazines because I want to visit everywhere. I can’t save any money because I spend it all on airfare or gasoline.

So you can imagine how hard it was for me to read Elizabeth Gilbert’s New York Times Bestseller “Eat Pray Love.” In fact, I haven’t read it completely. I had to stop after reading of her experiences in Italy. By that point, I’d created an eBay account, Kelly Blue Booked my vehicle’s worth, and searched one-way flights to various cities across Europe. I was ready to sell everything I owned and move to anywhere. It was then I knew I had to put the book down. My heart just couldn’t take it.

Side note for those of you who are out of touch with pop culture: Gilbert’s book is about her experiences spending a year traveling in search of herself and, some would say, spirituality. She spends time in Italy, where she focuses on food, India, where she visits an Ashram and focuses on prayer, and Indonesia, where she focuses on love. Last weekend a movie based on her book was released starring Julia Roberts. (End side note.)

When my best friend, who loves the book, asked me to see the movie with her, I could hardly say no, especially because it stars my favorite actress of all time. (“Pretty Woman” was my favorite movie as a child.) Going into the theater, I gave myself a pep talk, something not uncommon for me.

Just enjoy it. You know you’re supposed to be in Champaign now. You just signed a 12-month lease. This is where the Lord wants you. Just enjoy the movie,” I told myself convincingly.

I did enjoy the movie. But, I’ll admit, there were times, while sitting in that surprisingly comfortable movie theater seat, I would have given all but my last breath to be sitting on the Spanish steps in Rome (something I’ve done before) or walking the beaches of Bali (something I long terribly to do).

That brings me to my main point, the title of this post: 10 Reasons I’m Not Selling Everything I Own and Traveling the World. Truly, I believe these reasons are from my heart. However, I must be more truthful in saying perhaps my heart is trying to convince my head these reasons are valid. Regardless, here are the 10 reasons I’m staying in good, ol’ Midwest and not becoming a globetrotter….right now anyway.

1. I’m not in a financial position to spend a year unemployed.
2. My family would hate me.
3. I just signed a 12-month lease that can’t be broken.
4. Honestly, I believe God has led me to Champaign, Ill.
5. Student loans, need I say more?
6. I plan on going back to school next year (for dental hygiene this time).
7. My camera isn’t good enough to take on that kind of trip.
8. I need to shed some pounds before I can fit in with the rest of the world.
9. I would need to take another self-defense course to brush up my moves, and I don’t have time for that now.
10. The final reason, and probably the one I cling to most, is that book has already been written. I won’t write it again; I’ll write my own.