Is it Necessary to Travel to be Happy?

Travelling alone in the Philippines


(I am editing this old post because I think there are parts of it that needed to be slightly modified. I am going through my posts to find out which fit nicely into my blog and which need to be modified or deleted)

I must say right off the bat that I love travelling and that travelling is part of my identity.

Yet in this post I am going to talk about “compulsive Wanderlust” which, I guess, is one of my weaknesses, and almost 3 months of lockdown between March and May  2020, plus the fact that, even if most lockdown measures have been lifted here in Italy, travelling is still quite complicated, have further brought to the light that this is something I need to fix.

I am an Italian man who is married to a foreigner.

One of the reasons why 20 years ago I stumbled upon the foreign woman whom I eventually married is because I am well-travelled, I speak more than one language and therefore, when I first met my wife, I was able to communicate with her because she was new here in Italy and she couldn’t really speak my language.

Also, because of my travelling experiences, I was open to other cultures and I had plenty of experience in interacting with people from diverse backgrounds.

But, while my desire to explore other countries and cultures was the very thing that got me to get to know my wife and eventually marry her, this very desire became a huge stumbling block in my relationship.

WANDERLUST VS BASKING IN THE ENJOYMENT OF LITTLE EVERYDAY THINGS

To make a long story short: as I have said I love travelling, or, more honestly, I actually crave it, so much so that before I got married I couldn’t stand the idea of letting a single year go by without visiting at least one foreign country and I couldn’t even stand the idea of letting one week go by without going at least on some excursion even to a nearby medieval town, a lake, a forest or whatever (and we’ve got an abundance of amazing places to explore in my region).

My wife, on the other hand, doesn’t care at all about travelling.

I think that there are three underlying reasons why this is the case:

She left the Philippines at a very early age and became an OFW or Overseas Filipino Worker and, therefore, she associates the idea of travelling to other countries to the idea of migration and being severed from friends and relatives, while I was born in a first world country and I associate the idea of travelling to adventure and the possibility to broaden my horizons.

Another reason is that my wife comes from a culture that is very people oriented and family oriented while us Westerners are more goal oriented.

But a deeper reason is that she has an incredible ability to enjoy little and ordinary things and bask in those things without having to distract herself and necessarily go somewhere to feel fulfilled which is something I like to talk about, read about and theorize about but, in practice, if you take travelling away from me, I don’t have this skill at all.


WHEN HUSBAND AND WIFE HAVE DIFFERENT VIEWPOINTS ABOUT TRAVELLING

My wife’s concept of vacation is pure rest and nothing more.

I, on the other hand, have an almost neurotic and compulsive need and urge to go somewhere else.

My wife and I often go somewhere out of town and I am grateful to her that she is willing to meet me half-way in this area.

My idea of going somewhere to spend a weekend together is somewhere in Europe like Prague, Paris or even further away, while her idea is somewhere as close as possible, even if this entails renting an apartment here in town or in a very close lake resort or anywhere else that entails moving as little as possible from home.

I have learned to compromise and, therefore, I now travel much less than I used to do in the past.

I was actually forced to compromise because the gap between me and my wife in this area was becoming a big problem in my relationship which took me years to fix.

I realized how serious this problem was after my first trip to the Philippines.

My first trip to the Philippines was my first opportunity ever to visit a tropical country.

Until then I had seen nothing but almost every single corner of Europe, I had never visited any other continent.

I had made amazing trips to the far North of Europe and other amazing places but I had never been to the tropics before or, as I said, I had never been anywhere else outside Europe.

So I was expecting to do a big deal of snorkeling and see plenty of coral reefs, explore jungles and remote waterfalls and do everything else that a European would expect to do in an exotic paradise but I pretty soon realized that my wife had no intention whatsoever to show me around and take me on a tour of her amazing country.
She wanted to do nothing but visit old friends and relatives.

So, because some Filipino friends of mine who live in Rome were in the Philippines on vacation in that period, I left my wife and went off on my own to meet up with them.

I took a bus from the bus terminal in Cubao (Metro Manila) and headed North to the Ilocos Region where I met up with my friends who took me to a lot of beaches in Pangasinan, to the Cordillera Mountains and to a bunch of other places.

It is not as if I hadn’t seen anything of the Philippines while with my wife: we had actually been to the One Hundred Islands (only for one day), Tagaytay and few other places. But I was eager to see more, as the Philippines offer much more than that.

The problem is that, few months  after my trip to the Philippines, I realized how selfish I had been and how I should have put my relationship ahead of my cravings for adventure.

Once I realized that my urge to travel all the time, not only in the Philippines but also here in Italy, was driving a serious wedge between me and my wife I began to seriously ask myself: “why do I have this urge to travel all the time”, “why can’t I just appreciate little ordinary things as my wife does?”.

AN ADDICTIVE WANDERLUST CAN BE A REAL NEUROSIS

I came to the conclusion that my urge to always experience something new or different was a real neurosis and that I had to become more grounded in being, not only for the sake of my relationship but also for the sake of having a more balanced mindset.

I once stumbled upon a book where I read that our relationship with the present moment defines our relationship with life itself and it became pretty obvious to me that my urge to always go somewhere else was closely tied to my underlying inability to bask in the present moment and enjoy the little things that are the bulk of an intimate relationship and of family life.

I understood that what makes a marriage great is not those ecstatic highs that I hoped to experience with my wife somewhere in Palawan or Boracay but rather the everyday ordinary little moments that my wife seemed to be happy with and that I was failing to fully enjoy.

NEVER STAKE YOUR LIFE ON THE PURSUIT OF ADVENTURE

Another reason why I am reconsidering my relationship with travelling is that I am 53 years old and I am facing old age and, maybe, disease in the future.

What would I do if I lost my eyesight or I got sick to the point of not being able to go anywhere anymore and being bedridden for life?

If travelling is so addictive for me this means that when that part my life is over my whole life will be over.

I can’t run this risk so I’d better learn from my beautiful wife how to be more grounded in the here and now and enjoy the amazing little things we experience every single day while they last and view those ecstatic highs that we from time to time experience when we travel somewhere as a bonus and nothing more.

REAL FULFILLMENT IS THE ABILITY TO ENJOY LITTLE THINGS

Granted, travelling has enriched my life beyond measure and I also owe the fact that I have met my wife to my travelling experience.

Travelling is an incredible opportunity to broaden my perspectives and enjoy the beauty of life but so is reading, so is buying a microscope and staring at the magnificence of a cell or even staring in awe at my own hand, or some other part of my body, or, as I said, enjoying the beauty of ordinary moments with my wife and my family.

I am seriously introspecting and trying to get to the root cause why for so many years I haven’t been able to be still and just bask in being without needing to distract myself and go somewhere else to see more or something different or new.

My wife is helping me a lot in this regard and I am very grateful that I have met this amazing woman who has taught me what it is like to put a relationship and the little yet amazing things that characterize it ahead of the flimsy highs that going on some adventure offers.

2 thoughts on “Is it Necessary to Travel to be Happy?

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