Recently, I was talking to a friend who doesn’t like to travel. She visits the same vacation spot every year and doesn’t enjoy stepping out of her comfort zone. She doesn’t like eating at exotic restaurants, has no tolerance for airplanes, and is perfectly content to sit by a lake and read a book. I can kind of relate to that (at least the book by the lake part).
At the other extreme, I have friends who’ve traveled all over the world. They’ve dined in Venice, dipped in the Red Sea, gambled in Macau and hung out at ashrams in India. Part of me can relate to that kind of life, too. It must be nice to see the world as your oyster.
As much as I’d love to do more traveling (actually, I’m trying to manifest a trip to Hong Kong right now), I’m always reminded that we don’t have to go very far to see our surroundings with awe and wonder. In fact, this realization popped up yet again when I was walking less than a mile from my house recently and passed by this eagle. I’d be willing to bet that most of the people in my neighborhood don’t even know he (she?) exists, as his favorite tree is off the beaten track, on a path that pretty much leads to nowhere. For several years now, he and his family have been roosting from November until March.
Unfortunately, it sometimes takes a dramatic turn of events to get us to open our eyes and see the beauty that’s in our own backyard. A cancer diagnosis, a near-miss with an oncoming truck, or the loss of a family member or close friend can remind us that we don’t have time to waste and that it’s a good idea to take our eyes off our computer screens every day and look up at the sky, or into the trees, or into our children’s faces. And though I’d like to go to Bali or Japan, I also want to remain aware of the fact that there are hummingbirds, butterflies and yes, even eagles, just a stone’s throw from my house.
A young man I know often tells me he doesn’t like to visit the same place twice. But I have found certain places that I could visit hundreds of times and always find something new. Along the river where this eagle winters is one such place. Even though I don’t need to buy a plane ticket to get there, I’m always amazed by the seemingly infinite gifts of the here and now.