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A Season of Exploration

Exploration is really the essence of the human spirit. ~ Frank Borman

Summer is such an interesting time.  En masse we interrupt our routines, leave our homes our friends and our communities and we travel by land, sea, and air to seek out new experiences.  These journeys are full of hope.  Hope that we will be connected in new and exciting ways to our world, our travel companions and ourselves.   They spark the imagination, imbuing us with wonder about who or what we will encounter.  And we pack all of this adventure into a few warm brief months in the middle of the year before Autumn returns us to our familiar rhythm.  Summer is truly our season of exploration.

Exploring foreign cultures

Photo Credit: Brodie Vissers

Exploration can take many forms.  Some may travel abroad immersing themselves in new and different cultures.  A few years ago, J & I had the good fortune to spend some time in France.  Whether we were sitting in Notre Dame, meandering through the gardens at Giverny or peering out at the Atlantic from Mont Saint-Michel as the incoming tide surrounded the island, we were awed by the architecture and the history of the country. 

While all of these experiences were inspiring what I remember most was the celebration of food and the experience of sharing a meal.  Perhaps it was the welcoming smiles at the neighborhood bakery where we had quiche and croissants for breakfast every day.  Maybe, it was the robust offerings at the local markets where we often had lunch or simply got some produce, bread, and cheese and returned to our flat for a quick bite.  Or, it could have been the dinners that went late into the evening and were less about getting fed and more about exploring your pallet; and if it lasted less than two hours, you were doing it wrong.

This experience was far from an indictment of the eating habits of our native country.  Rather, it was an invitation to experience food and the breaking of bread as something that could be special every day and was not reserved for holidays and rare occasions.  It was the planting of a seed that would be nourished by the slow food movement here in America as it weaved its way from the big cities of the coasts to small town USA. 

Photo Credit: Brodie Vissers

Some may choose to explore in a different way, to hop in the car with their partner, sibling or good friend and hit the open road.  This can be so rewarding as you can see much of the natural wonder of our beautiful country.  More importantly, it creates time and space to share old memories while creating new ones; to explore, invigorate and renew that relationship with your traveling companion.

Some years ago I drove out to visit my brother Bob in Texas.  We road tripped to the Four Corners area and explored a small part of the western U.S.  I was fascinated by the ingenuity of the cliff dwellings at Mesa Verde, enjoyed the funky vibe of Santa Fe and was awed the historical significance of Los Alamos.  

But what I remember most of that trip was Bob's shortcut (these are legendary in our family) that took us off an interstate to what ended up being a one and a half lane gravel road that wound through northern New Mexico.  It was on this detour that we stumbled on the breathtaking Valley Grande and later found ourselves scrambling 40 feet up a rocky outcrop near the summit of a mountain.  No memory from that trip will compare to sitting on that mountaintop with my brother, taking in miles of breathtaking landscape and being completely in that moment.

We are always growing and evolving, becoming a new, and hopefully better, version of ourselves.  This is vital as we have new facets to share with the most important people in our lives.  This process of exploration, discovery, and sharing creates the rich soil of our lives, nourishing us through the roots we put down and anchoring us in a storm.  

Others still may choose to explore closer to home and enjoy a much-needed staycation (no personal stories here as I have yet to master this art...someday).  Clearing your schedule and setting aside time for self-care can be nourishing for the spirit and therapeutic the mind.   

Options for such exploration can include a fast or a cleanse to reset wavering dietary habits.  Extended daily sessions can enhance your yoga or meditation practice.  Of course, there is nothing wrong with simply sleeping in and curling up with a good book. It is rare that we have the opportunity to feel our bodies truly rested and energized and this is surely a worthwhile pursuit.  

Photo Credit: Brodie Vissers

Adventure and exploration is a critical facet of mindful living.  However you choose to spend your season of exploration, embrace it with vigor and savor every moment.  Enjoy the journey.

Be Well,

Wayne & Julia