Another year has ended and we are at the beginning of a new one. They flip by faster and faster, it seems.
The New Year celebration is an occasion that can’t be ignored. Even if we resist thinking about it, the New Year hullaballoo thrusts itself upon us and forces us to do a reckoning. Even if you are dead set against making New Year’s resolutions, it’s almost impossible not to think about it, even just on a subconscious level.
But that is the great beauty of the New Year. It invites us to recreate ourselves. Even if you are a Scrooge of the New Year holiday and write it off as an empty social custom, the New Year celebration is a beautiful thing because it encourages us to act on the idea that we can change ourselves. And for me, there is no greater agent of change than travel.
I like the New Year because it’s a time when we allow ourselves to believe in rebirth. It’s empowering because it fosters the belief that you can start fresh, leave the burdens and errors of the past behind and create a new world. It tends to be a self-fulfilling prophecy. You can shape yourself through your choice of actions, what you will do, how you will spend your time.
Choosing Your Future Self
There are two reasons why I say that travel is one of the greatest agents of change.
One is that when you take a vacation you are by definition leaving your normal routines and immersing yourself in a new environment and a different situation than what you live in for most of the year.
On vacation you are free to suspend the repetitive thoughts and actions that tend to occupy your mind much of the time. You give yourself a rare opportunity to think freely and expansively. That in itself makes it more conducive to change than the normal day-to-day routines.
The part of your life that is repetitive all blurs together. If your weeks seem to repeat themselves, then your memories of them will be condensed into the memory of a standard week that just starts over every Monday morning.
The repetitive routines of life will not be the point at which you induce change. Most of us have plenty of routine and repetition in our lives, and that’s okay. It just confers greater importance on vacation time, the exception to the rules.
The second way travel is an agent of change is the trip itself, where you go, what you do, and how you travel. Both choices, deciding to take a vacation in the first place, and what kind of vacation to take, can have a very powerful effect on your year, and on your life.
Travel is the most concentrated kind of experience, the most fully-rounded learning activity, engaging all our faculties at once as we participate in a full-dimensional, high fidelity, Surround Sound, 360-degree pageantry of events. That kind of experience has the power to change you profoundly.
A great trip is something you live with before you go, in anticipation, planning, reading and daydreaming about it. Then after you return you have rich memories of experiences that can be life-changing. If you take one glorious, mind-bending, heart-moving trip in a year, it can cast its glow over the entire year, and leave you with memories that stay with you and enhance your quality of life for a lifetime.
We have limited control over many aspects of our lives. Most people can’t just get up one morning and say, “I don’t want to be a lawyer anymore. I think today I’ll be a surgeon.” We may not be able to turn our career path on a dime. But when it comes to travel plans, we have broad latitudes of choice of different kinds of travel experiences, different places and different ways to travel. And by your travel choices, you can mold yourself into more of what you want to become.
I recently saw a study that said most New Year’s resolutions are broken by March. But statistical truth does not overrule personal choice. You can personally beat the odds by an act of will. If you plan a trip in January and make the bookings then you will take that trip. Even if all your other New Year’s resolutions fall through, that one won’t.
And that one experience can change you.
Planning a New Year
January, when the glow of the New Year is fresh and we still believe that that we are going to better ourselves for the New Year, is a good time to make travel plans for the coming year.
Making the choice of where to go is not only a delectable pleasure in itself, you can plan travel that will further your education and expand you. You can say: “I have still never made it to [fill in the blank], and I think it is finally time for me to close that gap in my education.”
Setting plans for how to push your own travel frontier boundaries farther out can be a major part of who you will be this year and going forward.
The New Year as a Celestial Phenomenon
The New Year celebration is one holiday we cannot write off as an empty ritual. It is grounded in nature, in celestial phenomena. The New Year marks one complete orbiting of the earth around the sun. That is no small matter. In fact, in that perspective it is we humans that are small matter.
The New Year marks the time when the year begins anew, as determined by the ascendance of the sun in the Northern Hemisphere. It’s the beginning of the growing season, and all of nature will go through a gigantic rebirth that is cyclical and repeats every year. It reminds you that the New Year is a real thing and when you celebrate it you are in harmony with the cycles of nature.
On the micro scale, in my personal life, it presents an opportunity for me to remake myself in a new image, to push my personal evolution. I like that!
So if you are offered the option of remaking yourself, what would you be? Where would you begin? How would you change from what you are now?
In addition, for me, as the years go by faster and faster, whenever I feel a sense of futility creeping up on me, the cure is travel. Travel is the one thing that always feels like time well spent. That is when I am living life to the fullest.
On that note, I wish you the finest and most rewarding New Year. And now, in January, while the New Year is fresh, set down those travel plans. When the time comes, you’ll be glad you did.
Your Humble Reporter,
A. Colin Treadwell