I really wanted to write about something personal for my first article back so I decided to reach deeper than the proverbial travel tips and top 5s to get at the sadder side of being a travel lover. And the simple question that keeps plaguing my current daily life is this:
Why is travelling so addicting?
As you well know, my last out of country trip was a 10 day road trip through Costa Rica. Upon returning from a vacation of playing with monkeys and swimming in the ocean, I have now gotten back on the routine treadmill of working weekdays. Weekdays that seem to be moving but going nowhere all at the same time. There is a certain staleness to my everyday life that's only lucid when I've been removed from it. It's not that life itself is dull and undesirable, it's that when I leave it for a brief week I find myself accustoming to the new place I'm in. I start eating the funky cheeses, smelling strange smells, swaying to the local music... and my brain, in its adaptability, starts slowing down time. It wants to roll every new thing on its tongue and grasp the newness. It wants to remember the fishy smell of the beach after sundown and the pant of the howler monkeys in the trees during sunrise.
I read an article once that explained to me that when the brain is in a routine, it speeds up time. It has no need to relearn the path from your house to your job. It doesn't need to pay attention to Microsoft Excel sheet after Microsoft Excel sheet. Your brain turns on autopilot. But when the brain is on vacation, it starts to absorb new things. All of a sudden, you start to notice the tropical trees and the bright green color their leaves turn in the sun. I never look at the leaves in Boston. I've seen them and my brain no longer cares to take in reused information. Vacationing is like turning your senses into a baby once again. When you were an infant and saw your first balloon or box of brightly colored crayons, you were allured by them. Your senses were open to learning. You wanted to put every crayon in your mouth to see what wax tasted like. I think that's what travelling to a new place is like. It's about reminding your brain how to use it's senses again.