Oct 30


touristbusThere is this tension between planning and allowing that occurs when we take a journey.  Clearly most of us create itineraries for a trip we want to make.  There are obvious reasons for this (i.e., consideration of cost, anticipated destinations that are on our bucket lists, constraints of time, who we travel with, and much more).  However, I believe far too much importance is placed on this planning and that it can get in the way of what travel can offer.


The very act of travel is an easy metaphor for how we live.  We all can relate and comprehend the significance of the phrase “life is a journey”.   And yet, how many of us take this to heart when we decide to make a trip.


I fear more often than not we feel the pressure of having to accomplish certain goals and arrive at certain destinations.  After all you may only have a two-week period or so to take time off and want to make the most of it.   So you dream and scheme about packing as much as you can into to this precious opportunity.  And it is in this intention that we plant the seeds of much discontent. 


This desire to orchestrate and plan in detail the way you take a journey can easily obscure some other benefits of travel. And if I am not attentive to this, disappointment can often result.


I prefer to have people “get off the bus”; to move outside the touted “tourist bubble”.  Once you have determined the location you plan to visit let the place take over to guide you. 


I’ll repeat:  Let the Place be your Guide.


You can always read up on what a place is about.  You can do a focused tour of a particular location and learn about its history, culture, art, architecture and more.  However, Places are more than the composite sum of all these information streams. 


Places have an atmospheric aspect that pervades everything.  I would say that Places have a living presence that can be interacted with.  A Place actually invites you to play with and be with it in specific ways.  Places induce in us different feelings and provoke distinctive actions associated with it.

 Ancient Lava Field

I’m thinking of a time when I was hiking to get to a beach on the island of Hawaii.  My goal was to access what was touted to be a hidden gem on the island.  To do so I had to traverse an old lava field in the heat of the day.  I wanted to get to the beach as quickly as possible since all the black rock that had hardened amplified the heat.  However, I couldn’t just run across this area without peril to my body.  Moving too quickly in my preferred way of walking/running would have resulted in tearing up my shoes on one of the razor like edges of the rocks.   I knew I risked stumbling and thereby incurring all sorts of cuts and bruises.  Becoming more sensitive to how I was walking allowed me to adjust my gait in a different way that avoided these “cutting” encounters.  Eventually I discerned a way to move that was quicker.  It became evident to me how the Place of this lava field was dictating to me how I had to move if I wanted to get to my destination more quickly.


Much later I recognized how this way of moving mimicked the way men danced traditional hula.  This was the gait of the warrior. Each step was powerful while having a certain lightness and fluidity in it.  Moving out on those lava fields I had to be nimble and fluid and yet deliberate in where and how I stepped.  As I discovered how to step into this “flow” I felt incredibly powerful.  It was such a delight.  I had become this ancient Hawaiian warrior. 


The above experience helped me realize how a Place can speak to you.  And this conversation is not in your preferred vernacular; mainly words.  Places aren’t going to “talk” to you verbally.   The dialogue will occur in other modalities.  Most often by how it makes you want to move. 


In contrast to the tourist bubble and all its attendant activities and concerns, I want to encourage a different way of connecting to the Places we visit.


Simply put, I wish for you to slow down and even stop in order to feel into what the Place you are visiting is prompting you to feel and follow this into movement.  To explore how Places can induce in you all kinds of dances that, when engaged, will open up new possibilities about who you are and even what the Place is being and wanting from you.  And in following this I can cultivate the art of improvising the journey.


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  1. Melinda

    Nice read Jeff. Hope all is well in your world.

    1. jeffkelton

      Thanks for being such a fan.

  2. Pat Henry

    Thanks, Jeff, this is fantastic!!! Made me want to walk out the door and take off again!!! I shared it with a granddaughter who is leaving in Dec to go TRAVELING. Africa is high on the list; she did an internship there and loved it. Nice to be back in your neighborhood with our fellow Visionaries! I look forward to more of your posts. BTW I have often thought it would be great to live in a different country each year…long enough to really learn “how to move” and not so long as to be caught up in the “stuff” of the place. Another thought from my traveling days: it always seemed that my experience was best when I arrived in a more simple way, as on foot, by local bus, or by small boat. Pat

    1. jeffkelton

      Thank you Pat for your comments. It warms my heart to know that what I write has value for others. I am excited for your granddaughter’s upcoming adventure. May her journey reveal hidden delights and insights on her path.

      With regards to learning ‘how to move” it really depends on your openness to how “gravity” tugs at us. It is not a straight forward thing. Each place we are in will have different pulls on us and will be different for each of us as well. The key is to allow yourself to play with it….and this can be done in the “now” and doesn’t require much time to do. However, it is important to stay in places for a period of time to really soak up the atmosphere and let it percolate within our bodies below the skin in order to really fathom the wisdom of a place.

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