My brother and I flew to Bogota, Colombia for our first ever brothers-only trip. In the hostel in Candelaria, we met Dinésha. She was 15 months into what ended up being an 18-month trip around the world. The three of us immediately dove into the usual conversations you have in hostels: “How many countries have you visited? How many passports have you filled? Which Oasis song are you most sick of?" (“Wonderwall” clearly!)
But what happened after that first 5 minutes altered our mutual courses. We discovered that the "usual discussions” were a precursor to a larger discussion about Connection. Connection to Self and the greater world. It's what drove Dinésha to constantly seek other conscious souls around the world. “How do others live? Believe? Express themselves?” And it's motivated my perpetual search for other seekers. “What are others’ created meanings? What shapes our social constructs? How do we define freedom?”
We noticed that travelers seek a deeper awareness of what it means to be fully present in the moment, wherever that moment happens to be. We traveled to find commonalities with those that crossed our paths.
We swapped stories of instant authenticity with complete strangers from around the world. The woman in Java whose husband died badly last year but she’d never had someone hold space for her to unleash the grief and tears until this apparently random encounter. The couple in Vilcabamba who’ve long practiced sacred sexuality and instantly became mentors to a young woman in transition. The Chinese-Indonesian children living in Tokyo who connected with this random traveler and have stayed in touch for years since.
Travel shows us that random encounters offer an opportunity to connect deeply in unexpected ways. But this only happens if the traveler lives fully in the moment, open to what the day will bring rather than vehemently sticking to a curated schedule.
Mindful travel invites us to hold a stranger’s gaze, smile at children and visit with the elderly. It encourages turning left down the graffitied alley or into the small art gallery at will. It embraces eating new foods, accepting invitations from strangers and stumbling through new languages, all without fear or shame.
Over the past few years, Dinésha and I have visited several countries together, introduced each other to our friends and shared both laughter and tears. And what we’ve discovered is that this form of travel continues even when we’re not jumping on planes or getting new passport stamps. This type of travel occurs every time we open ourselves to authentic connection with others.
It happens on the bus to work, in the grocery checkout line and in waiting rooms. The essence of mindful travel resides in being ever present and holding space for those in our immediate circle. And with each new encounter, the world reflects the divine beauty a little more. We create opportunities for sharing, for healing, for kindness. And we do it all simply by being present.
This is Life as Art: to live each day as a traveler. To remain vulnerable and humble. To stay excited about saying "Yes!" to whatever comes. To acknowledge that pain and joy are intrinsically linked. And to be thankful for the moment we are in.