What are your life values and how do they fit into your travel experience? As I prepare to depart for Spain, to teach a brilliant and eager group of writers, work on my screenplay, Siesta, with filmmaker Rogier Van Beeck Calkoen, and indulge in a writing retreat at Casa Ana in La Alpujarra … and then whirl around Paris doing research for my novel, Illuminations (and a few events), I contemplate my own travel manifesto:
I believe our reactions to places are initially a reflection not of the place but of ourselves, thus I allow a place to beguile me. I do not post, proclaim, pronounce, or otherwise do the charming myself while in the place.
I believe there are deep, transformative forces whirling around the world, so I focus on the mysteries of the place, not on myself (I cannot try to learn flamenco dancing if I am worried about how I look!) I take time for solitude and refrain from selfies (Once I posed my family for a photo, “Merry Christmas from Stonehenge”, and all that was visible of this most ancient and moving sites was a little grey corner of a rock behind my son Kellan’s shoulder)
Our adventures are all connected to each other and to the trials and victories of history, so I seek my own true adventure, something that is that corresponds with my deep spiritual need.
Savoring a place is essentially the goal of travel, so I keep tight boundaries on my time so I do not feel if I am rushed. Set my own schedule (I swoop in and out of groups) aware of my energy, as absorbing a place and its people both takes and gives energy.
There are hidden stories in places that connect with my own psyche, so I observe and take notes on details and emotions, engage with people in a respectful way, coaxing out their own stories. I listen to the sounds of life, of history and of spirits.
I believe the dark gives meaning to the light, thus I look for the duende of a place by attending to ALL feelings within me without focusing on them, as my adventure has to be coming out of my own interior.
I look for my magical guides, those figures of the past and present who ignite my life. They are varied and unexpected, and one can easily miss their appearance.
Doors will open where there were no doors before and where there would not be doors for anyone else. I stay attuned to senses. Learn the history (enhancing my readiness), listen to music, dance, give art the chance to work its mystique on me, I look for duende and joy and angst and cheer. The underground journey. I direct my senses outward to the place and keep my focus there.
I avoid letting my identity as a travel writer, author, filmmaker or teacher eclipse my quest as a traveler.
I cultivate courage by pursuing the call to adventure: no security, no rules.
What is your own travel manifesto???
I am so honored to be featured on Jeff Greenwald’s Ethical Traveler podcast with a short version of my story, “The Stance of the Toro Bravo”.
You can find the entire story here: