Travel Isn’t About What You See, But How the World Makes You Feel

It’s hard to believe that I’m leaving Lisbon next week; my European adventure continues, but Lisbon has impacted me profoundly.

For the first time, I’ve lived in a walkable city after realizing that a city is what I want to live in during this chapter of my life.

I can walk beside the river just to listen to music and look into the distance.

Across the street I can look over the city and let my imagination run with a book.

Every day in Lisbon provides the opportunity for an adventure — a neighborhood to explore, a unique park to write in, an alleyway I’ve passed and missed that teems with color, artwork, life…

I’ve been absolutely lost in the beauty, the energy, the vibe that is Lisbon; it’ll be sad to go, but perhaps one day I’ll call this city home again.

I came here listening to an inner calling to get out into the world and follow my innate desire; still, I have moments where I question what I’m truly doing.

My Dare to Dream partner in crime Gregory Benedikt and I often ask one another: What are you grappling with?

Psychologically, mentally, physically, what is it you’re up against?

Who’s your formidable foe in day-to-day life that keeps you on your toes? My answer usually has something to do with my writing journey.

I’m living in Europe because I’ve told myself that this is what I need to be a travel writer.

It’s obvious, I have to travel! So here I am, traveling. But my concerns and self-doubt haven’t dissipated with the sunny weather.

This, I believe, is healthy — I care with all my heart about this. About making a difference in my own life and the lives of others.

I care about savoring each day — this is what I get to do — this is the life I’m striving towards, and I don’t want to waste the opportunity of actually being here.

What would it mean to waste it?

I’ve realized there’s no magic switch that’s going to flip where everything will make sense overnight.

There’s the work, the same work that I’ve been doing all along, and that’s to explore and write about this adventure called life.

I’m committed for the long haul seeking nothing but incremental wisdom and the satisfaction that comes from devoting myself to something.

I’m here to uncover who I truly am, not to become somebody I’m not.

Travel, I’ve come to realize, isn’t necessarily about what you see, but how it makes you feel.

Perhaps that’s why I’m grappling with the notion of being a travel writer, because I’m here not just to see Lisbon.

I’m here to feel the pangs, the beauty, the nature of change that being in a new environment brings.

I write this initially from a park bench, and that in itself is enough reason to be here.

It makes me feel something just to be alone.

But I’m also noticing I enjoy my solitude, as it allows me to study the world around me and use that inspiration to dig inward.

I cherish the feeling of the evening in the cool shade. The birds sing from the trees, and the neighborhood bell tower strikes three times.

A man plays guitar in the Jardim de São Pedro de Alcântarathe viewpoint that’s become a source of inspiration, creativity and wonder.

A group of students drag their suitcases across the cobblestones. They rattle as they move, and I wonder where they’re coming from.

One girl carries hers in her arms like a body despite everybody else, and that makes me smile.

The Castelo de São Jorge, that ancient castle in the distance, overlooks the city, surrounded by mature green trees.

A woman sells her art before me; the sky slowly melts into a golden evening.

I’m not here just to write about Lisbon. Naturally that will happen, but I’m here to feel life, all of it.

I’m here to connect with people I never would have met, because when we take that step into the unknown, opportunities we couldn’t have imagined begin to present themselves.

Doors open, and the choice is ours to step out of our comfort zone and walk through them.

Our problems, our fears and worries follow where we go.

Yet moving, traveling, exposing ourselves to new stimulus provides for contemplation, especially when alone. We learn how to face them.

We see how life can be, how people can be. And that is what we carry with us.

It doesn’t necessarily matter what we see, only that we’ve opened up our eyes. That is enough reason to get up, to travel, to go somewhere, anywhere.

This is the nature of travel which I treasure; I will always treasure this time in Lisbon, not because of what I saw, but because of who it made me become.

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