Big Magic in Little Moments: How Travel Shifts your Perspective
Do you believe in magic? Not necessarily Harry Houdini or Harry Potter magic, (although I highly recommend seeing the Harry Potter and the Cursed Child play if you're ever in London) but the kind of magic that makes your heart feel full to bursting, or your brain swim with awe and wonder, or even the Magic where your heart is warmed and you consciously feel it beating and you feel truly alive? Do you? I do.
Travel is one of my favorite gateways to magic. One of my favorite authors, Roald Dahl, famously said, "those who don't believe in magic will never find it," and I'm inclined to agree with him. When you travel, worlds and perspectives are opened to you that were previously unavailable. Odds are you’ll find yourself in the most amazing, as well as disheartening, of situations while visiting new places; yet I believe there is magic to find in nearly every situation.
I think the word magic needs to be rebranded in a modern sense. I have been traveling through Europe (plus a little of Africa and Asia and North America) for the past ten months and I've found this feeling on every scale, in so many different circumstances. Largely, I have consciously chosen to see and find this magic. Thus, I have created the most extraordinary memories for myself. And you can do this too, because everyone has the capability to enrich their own lives with a simple twist of perspective and gratitude. Magic is the moment when you feel consciously alive, and you can derive meaning and happiness from those feelings to supplement your life with goodness and gratitude.
My magic moments have varied from my first dips into never-before-seen seas and oceans, to riding camels in the Sahara, to teaching English in Marrakech, to popping champagne below the Eiffel Tower, to living and working in the gorgeous Algarve in southern Portugal, to waking up on lakeshores in an Irish National Park and jumping into the chilly water at sunrise, laughing and shrieking with my best friend, and on and on and on. These are moments when I felt alive - consciously, vividly, wholesomely. I have visited just under 20 countries on this trip, which will end at just around 300 days abroad when I touch my toes home on California soil at the beginning of November. In full transparency, that time was indeed full of many wonderful moments, but it was filled with difficulty and hardship as well. Life is not all flowers and sunshine (but oooh, the flowers I've seen!), as it is the reality of life that good comes hand-in-hand with bad. That's what makes the enchanting, soul-lifting parts so special.
It's easy to focus on the lady who was rude and ripped you off, or the time you got sick from bad water, or getting trapped in your hostel room by a man on drugs, or the nauseating foot smell coming from a fellow passenger on a seemingly never-ending bus ride (yes, these have happened to me and so much more since January). Although it makes sense to put weight on these downer situations because they have the ability to negatively impact your travels and your happiness, the real lesson lies in being able to shift your perspective, and to actively seek the best in every moment. If you’re brave enough to look past the hardship, you’ll find the most important life lessons of all. This is where you'll find the inspiration, goodness, and beauty that’s folded into the world.
Yes, the lady ripped me off, but I had the chance to respond with grace and practice patience. Right after this, I met the most wonderful Greek woman who gave me an awesome lesson on growing up, marriage, and how squishy babies are "just like white bread." That was magic.
Yes, I did almost have an accident from bad water, but it helped me appreciate each drop of good water I had henceforth. It also made me stop and think about the millions of people around the globe who don't have fresh water today. That gratitude is magic.
Yes, a scary man did put myself and a friend in a horrible situation, but we were saved by a new acquaintance and helped by nearby people and police, and I got to see the magic in humanity during crisis. Also, the coffee I had afterwards tasted so much better than the prior day, because I felt lucky to be drinking it, rattled but safe. Magic.
When I finally got off the bus with the stinky feet, I was truly so relieved. I loved the fresh air that I was breathing; I had overlooked how great it was until I couldn’t have it anymore. So, I felt lucky. Another tiny bit of magic.
And then there's big magic found in the blazing neon sunsets, in deep conversations that bond friends, in getting lost with no intention of getting back on the "right" path anytime soon, when you may feel inclined look up to the sky and simply think, “Thank you.”
And there’s the really small things too, like clicking with people you've only just met, walking amongst beautiful architecture, laughing while desperately trying to decipher foreign signs and instructions, kind smiles from foreign strangers on the metro, and stumbling upon flower markers and fluffy dogs, when you’re momentarily flooded with appreciation for the life you’re living.
It's all how you spin it, and what you choose to emphasize in your own consciousness. Focus on being present in the moment. Focus on things that help you feel alive. Focus on where you are, and what you're doing in the now. You can do this when you're traveling when many new situations are presented to you, but it applies to life at home as well. Don't dwell on the negative, but actively seek the positive. No matter if you’re traveling abroad or if you’re in your own town, your world and heart will grow when you reframe your issues, situations, and days to be based around gratitude and goodness--even though tough ones. You will never be disappointed if you choose to believe in magic, because if you're looking, I know you'll find it.
Author: Mackenize Gorman | @mackgman