The world has been romancing RUMI, and so have I. He was a saga of the 13th century, but is a divine wordy tale of today. He is real in ways that are intensely personal, and only some have found him. A few of those, are here with me today. They got lost, they got hurt, they searched farther and looked deeper…This is a miscellany of real people, with real stories – on how they found their RUMI, on the roads they traveled, in the verses he left behind.
“Let yourself be silently drawn by the strange pull of what you really love. It will not lead you astray. – RUMI”
She was just a few feet ahead of me at first and then she started pulling away. She was all of a sudden yards away. I couldn’t quite pedal my bike quick enough to catch her. I almost yelled out for her to slow down, but stopped myself as I knew she was a good biker and she was conscious of her surroundings. She soon put on her brakes and looked back with a smile, waiting for me to catch up.
She was ten years of age and we were biking in the Tuscan walled town of Lucca. It was one of the best moments of my life, watching her slow down to wait up for me, with a big smile on her face. I knew though that these moments were fleeting and wanted to make the most of it.
My daughter and husband are my greatest loves and the other travel. At that moment, when she let me catch up to her, I knew I wanted to see the world with my daughter before her life starts going too fast for me catch up. So when we got back from Italy, I asked my husband to think about a career change. He listened, and now we’re the proud founders of Dish Our Town.
“You were born with wings, why prefer to crawl through life? – RUMI”
Being a traveler in a wheelchair has never made me wonder if I choose the right path. It’s not easy to travel in a wheelchair, I’ve never questioned that. But it is possible, so why not? My need and urge for traveling is far greater than any obstacles on my way. When I tell people that I’m a globetrotter they automatically assume I overrate my ability to travel. People think I’m going to accessible made resorts ‘for people like me’.
They would never imagine me traveling through a rain-forest or getting dizzy from volcano fumes, nevertheless snorkeling with sharks in crystal clear oceans. They are turning the deaf ear towards me. It’s like traveling in South America; you know you speak Spanish but some locals only see you’re a tourist, they don’t hear the words coming out of your mouth, and shake their heads immensely while stuttering NO ENGLISH! When I travel I feel and follow my wings with hope to explore. I don’t get weighed down by my wheelchair.
“Go find yourself so that you can find me. – RUMI”
It was the summer of 2013. My work contract as a researcher was about to expire, but I was so unhappy with my life, so frustrated with my job and so lost in general that I did not even want to fight for a renewal or look for a similar job. Rather than seeing my new unemployed status as a disaster, I thought this was my golden opportunity to finally fulfill my dream. It was time to go on that backpacking trip across Latin America.
Most people would start a Latin America trip from Buenos Aires or Rio de Janeiro, but I had been to Argentina before; so I decided to start from Central America and I flew into Guatemala. Antigua was my first stop. I crossed all the continent and made it to South America, to Peru. But I had been fighting with some bad throat infections for over two months. In Cusco, doctors told me I would have to remove my tonsils. So I had to cut my trip short of one month to fly home to undergo surgery. When I came out of the surgery, I was crushed – I was in pain, and I felt I had nothing to go back to. I was hitting the bottom and I spent my recovery in a miserable mood, feeling sorry for myself. My family and friends were very supportive and always encouraged me to do what made me happy and look at the bright side. That’s when I realized that I wanted to travel more, that I wanted to make a career out of it, develop my blog and become a travel consultant.
Spending almost all my savings on that backpacking trip was perhaps the best investment I did in my life. Soon after recovering from the surgery, I applied for a job (and got it) as a tour leader for an English tour operator specialized in Latin America. I then enrolled in a travel designer course. I also started working on my blog more seriously, finally buying my own domain. As soon as the travel design course finished, I was dispatched to Central America to lead tours. When I arrived in Antigua, I took the chance to meet Justin Carmack, blogger of True Nomads, who had recently moved there and whose blog I had been following for years. I spent 3 days in Antigua, and each night, after work, I would meet Justin. I would lie if I said that I did not know we would fall in love, because I knew all along that what we had was special. Antigua Guatemala was where my search for myself started. And that’s where I also found my love.
“Your heart is the size of an ocean. Go find yourself in its hidden depths. – RUMI”
Why do we travel? We travel to see new places and experience different cultures. To take a break from the routine. To relax. To stumble over foreign words, taste unusual foods and cross goals off our lifelong bucket lists. Sometimes a trip goes well with no complications, but sometimes it doesn’t. Either way, when I leave my comfort zone to travel, I always learn a little more about the person that I am. And that is the most important part about travel – constantly evolving while discovering the talents, quirky abilities that make you who you are.
While I’ve recently transitioned from a life abroad with frequent travel into a more settled one, I need the reminder that I don’t have to travel thousands of miles away to explore a new place and challenge myself. I can do that by exploring a different neighborhood in my hometown or even finding a new challenge or hobby to take on. The real reward of travel isn’t about seeing a new place, but seeing something new in yourself.
“My soul is from elsewhere, I am sure of that, and I intend to end up there. – RUMI”
It’s the beginning of 2015, past midnight and I’m walking the empty streets of Udaipur with two of my best friends. Three years ago I didn’t know either of them and today I can not picture a life without them being a part of it. As I look back to my trips to India I realize that I rarely felt like a foreigner. There was always a certain familiarity in everything I’ve seen, every experience I had and every person I met…like somehow it was meant to be.
The noisy market in Jaipur, the rooftop terrace in the house of my adoptive Indian family where I first learned to fly a kite, the puzzling streets of Udaipur, the ever romantic Taj Mahal, the mysterious Varanasi, the luxurious garden of my friend’s heritage hotel in the heart of the Pink City, the historic castle of Orchha, laughter shared in cinemas, family dinners, crazy car drives and American ice cream, motorbike rides, Indian clothes, masala tea, gossips, stories, tears, dreams – they all shaped my soul in such an incredible way that I always felt like I belong there. There’s a piece of me that stays in India every time I go, leaving me incomplete and calling me back over and over again. Just like a home calls you back over and over again.
“What you seek is seeking you. – RUMI”
This thought is something I have identified with for a very long time, however, only in the last few years have I begun to recognize those feelings, and relay them into words. My life has taken various twists and turns over the years, and sometimes I think I could quite easily have represented at least three completely different people. Or at least that’s what it would look like from the outside. Right now I am happily married and travelling the world with my favorite person at my side. A few years ago, things were darker, so dark in fact that sometimes I feel a twinge of betrayal while posting colorful images of turquoise waters to my Instagram feed.
I haven’t ‘arrived’ and I don’t believe such a place exists anyway. But I will say that my turning point came when I gave myself over to something bigger than me and stopped trying to control every aspect of my life. That was when the things that I (secretly) sought out began finding me. Travel expands on this and takes it to another level. You’re exposed to so much more on the road, and you are constantly searching for things, even if you don’t realize it. I’m rambling now, but this all reminds me of another Rumi quote that Lauren and I were given for our wedding – “The minute I heard my first love story, I started looking for you, not knowing how blind that was. Lovers don’t finally meet somewhere. They’re in each other all along.”
“Respond to every call that excites your spirit. – RUMI”
Everyone travels for a reason. Some might simply do it to have fun or enjoy a break from work; others maybe do it to get away from all the problems; but true travelers do it to find themselves.
Traveling is more than getting to know new places, it is about self discovery and personal fulfillment. It is that great feeling of a plane taking off; the weird taste of a food you never tried; the gentle strange winds that touch your face for the first time. Traveling is that little corner of your brain that never leaves you alone, that insufferable thing that keeps poking you to move on forward; to dream about your next destination.
You probably know what I am talking about… After all, who never pictured the perfect trip, months or maybe years, before it will truly happen? You already know that it will be the best experience of your life, even though you have not yet even stepped into it. That is the traveling spirit, responsible for the best days of your life, even if they did not happened yet. Our only choice is to follow it. We wouldn’t dare to control it, actually, we would never want to, the feeling is too good.
By Gui Varro | Twitter |
This reminds me of so many things related to my dreams. I have big ambitions – I want to be a scriptwriter for films, a novelist that caters to the Filipino market, own several businesses related to food and spa and I also want to travel whenever I want to. I remember being overwhelmed with my aspirations and I’m not sure which of these should I pursue first, but I want to.
Instead of sulking of self-pity like what others tend to do, I started drafting short scripts till I finished my first full-length screenplay. It took me six months to finish my first novel. I started a separate bank account for my future food franchise business and I make sure I travel at least once in every three months. Mentors and supporters are there to give you extra push, but it is still up to you whether you want to make a difference in your life. Determination and hard work will do you good!
“Do not be satisfied with the stories that come before you. Unfold your own myth. – RUMI”
This quote could not describe my recent visit to Dubai more perfectly. I was ready to discover a city teetering with gleaming glass sky-scrapers and glitzy infinity shopping malls bursting with bling. A city with the biggest, the tallest, the newest, the shiniest. The most expensive. And yes, I did find that – but I also found so much more.
Amid the skyscrapers I found a city with an authentic Emirati culture, a rich heritage, the warmest of people and a fascinating food scene. I visited shady markets and spice souks filled with the aroma of Frankincense. I crossed the creek in an abra; a small wooden boat that has transported people over the water since Dubai was a small fishing port. I explored alleyways, back-streets and lanes. I met traders, store-keepers and local people who shared their stories, their passions and spoke to me in the ‘language of food’. I felt the heartbeat of the city and discovered its soul in the corners and crevices of Old Dubai. I believe you need to feel a place for yourself and see it with your own eyes to discover its true spirit. Unfold your own myth…
“Travel brings power and love back to your life. – RUMI”
This is pure truth. Travel gave me my life back. I have always loved to travel. I just forgot it for a while. After some life-changing events brought me low, I opted for a ‘safe’ existence that lasted too long. I now think of those years as ‘The Dead Zone’. It was getting up, getting out and getting back to traveling the world that pulled me from the grayness and brought me back to a life of joy, adventure, and excitement.
My first major trip then was a return to Amsterdam, where I lived after college, some decades ago. I wanted to get back in touch with the person I used to be, to see if I still recognized her. To my great joy, I discovered she still lives inside me, and she wanted out. We walked along the streets and canals of this glorious city, revisiting old haunts and even meeting up with a few old friends not seen for decades. We even got back a bit of the language we had worked so hard to learn back then. I fell back in love with Amsterdam, with traveling, and with myself.