Healing the heart, the soul and body throughout our lives is essential for longitivity and long-lasting happiness. Time to rest and reflect on your priorities helps to accomplish this. It is important to feel in control of one’s life. This is true freedom therefore freedom is a thought. It is a state of mind. At the beginning of my book, Backpacker’s Practical and Spiritual Guide to the Universe, I placed a poem about freedom, and in contrast to those famous words from Janis Joplin in Bobby McG, ‘Freedom’s just another word for, nothing left to lose’, I claim that freedom is knowing exactly what is on offer in this lifetime and taking advantage of what’s available. It’s about knowing you have EVERYTHING to lose, but most importantly – having everything to GAIN. This is the poem-
It is not afraid,
It is fearless.
It is not selfish,
It is generous.
It is not judgemental,
It is open-minded.
It is not irresponsible,
It is thoughtful.
It is not cost-free,
It is priceless.
It is not homeless,
It is belonging.
It is not reckless,
It is mindful.
It is not lonely,
It is loving.
Each of these lines is important for your mindset when you are creating your gap year. No matter your age, if you are feeling like you need to renew who you are – it is time to take a gap year. If you are desperate for adventure – it is time to take a gap year. If you are entering a new phase of your life but feel unprepared – it is time to take a gap year. If you have a young family itching for adventure – take them with you on your gap year. You don’t have to be alone for this. I often meet families with either very small children or teenagers who are traveling for a year or so.
Even the term ‘year’ may be used fluidly in this sense. It may not take a whole year. Many people I know return home part way through their gap year because they have accomplished what was needed and are ready to continue with their journey at ‘home’. Others take longer than the year. I met one man in Peru who had been traveling for 23 years and was only just reflecting about returning home.
Some take a few gap years here and there throughout their lives. The important thing is to create the gap where you are able to explore who you are and heal any hurts so you can move forward in life with an open heart. You don’t have to wait until you hurt. Just growing up is problematic enough to require a year away from the norm to explore who you really are and to work out what is important in life for you. A gap year helps you work all this out and helps you to create skills to pave the way.
There is no measure for our hurts either. Just to be able to reflect on the choices that we have made so far so there are no regrets or blame is important to be able to move forward. It helps keep our ‘baggage’ to a minimum and we should always try to travel lightly through this life.
Ultimately, there are many reasons for us to create time and space for our thoughts and the passions in our life. Travel gives us this space – if we use it right. Therefore we need to create this gap year space. It takes planning and a particular mindset. We don’t want to burn our bridges so that when we are ready to return home, we are faced with all sorts of dilemmas and extra problems. We need to leave in a safe space that we have created back home. This space is created through a thoughtful process. It’s all about your thoughts. It’s how you see finances. It’s how you see the physical place that you call ‘home’. It’s about how you see your relationships and how these are able to be nurtured along the way. It’s about how you see your job or your career. It’s about what you want to accomplish along the way. All these are thought processes. Setting yourself up for success before you leave gives you options. This will give you the freedom to return when you’re ready.
Each individual will have different needs in this department. I am developing a process that will assist individuals to go through the stages necessary to create the space. As it is a thought process, it is vital that your thoughts are in the right place. This is the main realm where freedom is created. We are in control of our thoughts.
Tripping off through the world is not running away. It’s about
running to the present. It’s about learning to live in the now and to
appreciate what you’ve accomplished. There is a need to create a sense of a life well lived. Some people are content with living an ordinary life and can feel accomplishment through this. Others need to explore and find deep meaning in their life through other means. Creating a gap year and traveling can help you achieve this feat.