I Need to Think New Thoughts

I’ve always loved to travel, and while I have never been a globetrotter by any means, I’ve gone some pretty great places: Italy, the Caribbean, Mexico a few times, NYC, Hawaii, Minnesota (via a road trip that spanned eight or nine states), Arizona, Texas, Florida, and lots of places in Nevada and here in California. We couldn’t afford extensive travel  as a kid, so as an adult it’s been something that I’ve always enjoyed having the option to do, even when I have not taken advantage of it. Unfortunately, since having Sawyer, my travel has been limited to California and the itch to go somewhere new has been increasing. Why I didn’t jump on more planes for weekend trips before him is beyond me.

Meanwhile, in the midst of this wanderlust, I listened to Kristin Newman’s What I Was Doing While You Were Breeding, a travel memoir of her single life gallivanting around the world, exploring new places whenever there was a break in her TV-writing schedule. Near the end, she said something that strongly resonated with me, so much more than the fun stories of her flings and shenanigans. She talked about one of the reasons why travel has been so important to her is because she believes that we humans think about twenty thoughts, just in different combinations and with slight variations. When we travel, though, we are forced to ”think new thoughts.” And there it was. That, right there, completely explained why I need to get out of my comfort zone a bit: I need to think new thoughts.

The thoughts I currently think aren’t all  bad, but sometimes even the chocolate ganache or Hawaiian pizza gets old (two of my favorite foods, thanks for asking).  So, yes, while I love my son, husband, our home, my job, running, and making plans for the weekend, things can still get old. And the things I think about that are less enjoyable, like all the papers I need to grade, the chores at home that are undone, wanting to pay off student loans, politics, my loop of perpetual exhaustion, and those other unpleasant thoughts one can have, get even more mundane.  I’m also the type of person who thinks nonstop, 110% of the time. Apparently there are people that can zone out? I can’t even fathom the notion.

I need to think new thoughts.

My son is finally at the age, three and a half, where I feel comfortable going on a long trip alone with him by myself. He can happily wheel his own suitcase in an airport, responds to directions fairly well, is out of diapers, and is incredibly flexible. I’m not super psyched about the prospect of the car seat in an airport an rental car situation alone, but I can manage (my husband’s work schedule makes it hard for him to get away with us).  I’ve decided we are going to head to Banff National Park in July- my personal deadline is booking the hotel part of the trip by this Friday.

I need to spend some time alone, too. Before having my son I spent a few hours every afternoon alone after work and before Scott came home. I wouldn’t trade Sawyer for that time, of course, but the last few months have felt like a whirlwind of everyone needing me, all the time, and I have had some serious moments of real struggle. Between work and home I am “on duty” for about  fifteen or sixteeen hours straight every day and I need to breathe, alone, without people asking me seventeen things at once. Yes, I am alone responsible for my life and how I live it. I know. I promise I'm not trying to pass the buck. We recently finished Michael Ondaatje’s Running in the Family at school and his grandmother, Lala, says to have minimized physical contact with her grandchildren because she felt like her space was so constantly invaded. I don’t necessarily feel that on a physical level, but mentally and emotionally sometimes I do. I know some people who prefer being surrounded by people all day every day and some who would prefer total isolation, classic introvert vs extrovert mentalities. I guess I’m somewhere in between?  Anyway, in a few weeks, I am going away for a day and a half alone, up the coast (in the interest of full disclosure, part of the reason I am going is also because I need a night of uninterrupted blissful hotel sleep, too).

I need to think new thoughts.

I think part of the reason I’ve always been so drawn to reading is because it often is a wonderful substitute for travel- it too allows you to think new things, based on setting character interactions, controversy, and even writing style. Five Days at Memorial forced me to consider ethical questions that made my uncomfortable, dystopian literature makes me think about how horribly I’d do under apocalyptic circumstances, Crazy Rich Asians allowed me to pretend to be incredibly wealthy, and so on and so forth.

Whether you like to travel or not, I think it’s important that we all take Newman’s advice to some degree and figure out how to “think new thoughts.” Get off the hamster wheel, hit reset, and be willing to branch out. It’ll be good. I promise.

1 comment:

  1. This is a really interesting way of looking at travel! I’ve always enjoyed the bit of traveling I have done, but traveling does stress me out — I think you are brave for all trips youve taken with your son already even if they were small! I can’t imagine traveling solo with my kiddo right now — not least of reasons because he’s a runner and soooo Curious — which is of course a good thing, be he can dash away from me in the blink of an eye wayyy too easily and it scares me. Anyway, someday I’d like to do a little more traveling, but know myself enough to know right now I crave rest more than adventure and I’m ok with that :) A few days away for my friends wedding soon is all I have planned and is probably the perfect mini getaway for me anyway right now.