Becoming a Mental Traveler


Lately I’ve been thinking a lot about all the places that I’ve been, and wishing I could again travel more. Although I’ve not yet gone to Europe or anywhere further away than that, I have been to many different parts of the U.S. and other neighboring countries. And I’ve loved seeing almost every square mile of them.

But I haven’t taken a real trip in over three years, and I’m feeling it. Most of all I miss the ocean.

My homebound status has been partly due to my work schedule and life circumstances, and not yet finding much pet-sitting help for my cat with health issues. I’m also not the world’s best traveler, always getting anxious and nervous about leaving home, and working myself up into knots with worries over what might happen while I’m gone.

But I’m trying to tackle these little obstacles. Sometimes the biggest impediments are in our minds, I know.

Since I started posting my poetry and photography on Instagram, I’ve begun turning into even more of a mental traveler, as poet William Blake wrote about. And so far it has been good therapy, revisiting in my head all the landscapes I’ve seen. When I close my eyes I can picture them, remember sounds and sights, and feelings, too, that I had at a particular place and time.

Sometimes I can even smell the ocean, and feel the damp, cool coastal wind in my face. It isn’t exactly like being there, but it’s close enough.

Walking along the coast once, seeing where the day took me.

I have a long list of hopeful travels, including Australia and New Zealand, the UK, Europe, parts of Asia and South America, and even Antarctica. I also want to visit all of the national parks, maybe in one long road trip in an RV. I’d actually love to take my pets along with me on that trek, although it might be more enjoyable on my part than theirs.

When you have a yen to see more of the world, it can be a bit frustrating to sometimes feel stuck. Even though you’re usually happy in a place and love it, and are surrounded by other things that you love.

As part of my mental traveling, I’ve also been reading more books set in exotic locales. It’s a wonderful thing to find a writer who can really take you somewhere else and have you feel it, whatever the nature of the story. One recent read was set in India, and I swear I could hear the market noises, feel the dry heat, and smell the saffron in the air.

Of course there are always movies and documentaries, which I love, and checking out all of the beautiful photography on Instagram and the web. There are many people who show me other amazing parts of the world I’d never see, and I’m so grateful that, in some way, I get to go along for the ride.

Happily, I have a tentative trip planned to Florida in January to visit my best friend, so I have a goal to work toward. Or two, really: to see her, and the ocean again.

So I will resign myself to my inner sojourns for a little while longer. After all, I can travel to so many more places inside than I probably ever will, or could, in reality, and do so without any concerns (except maybe where to go next). Which is something I’ve been doing all my life anyway, so I might as well sit back, relax, and enjoy the journey.

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