When it’s the middle of the afternoon on a workday and your thoughts start to wander away from the words on your computer screen, where do they go? A sunny beach? A mountain valley? A buzzing, foreign metropolis? Wherever your mind returns when it’s most tired, or wherever your heart leaps when someone asks you “where to?” – this is your happy place. It’s different for everyone, and sometimes it’s different for each of us depending on the day, or the time, or the weather. Some happy places fill a need when we’re bored with life; others, when we’re overwhelmed. And sometimes they reveal little paradoxes within us.
Paris is my ultimate happy place, but when I’m exploring uncharted (for me) parts of the world, nothing takes my breath away quite like wide-open, unpopulated spaces. Yes, this city girl likes to be a country mouse when she travels.
I love living in cities, being in the heart of the action, close to the pulse. I would last about a day living on a farm. (I can’t make it much longer than that in a suburb, either.) But while unfamiliar cities are exciting, they’re also exhausting. When I need to relax, a foreign city doesn’t do it for me. Instead, I’m drawn to the quiet, rural landscapes of the world.
Maybe you, too, seek contrast in your travels, to experience places completely different from your “normal”; or maybe you’re so deeply a city or country person that the opposite makes you miserable. If you don’t already know what your happy place is, start to pay attention when you travel to the types of places that make you happiest, that make you feel most at ease. They may not be the places you expect. One of the reasons we travel is to know ourselves – our real selves – better. The places that speak to us when we travel are a part of that puzzle.
I ardently believe that we should use travel to push ourselves out of our comfort zones into new and unfamiliar territory (of both the literal and figurative variety). But I also recognize that sometimes we need our travels to provide us comfort. In those situations, we know where to go: our happy places.