Trains are a fascinating snapshot of the unhappiness pulse. Every day, millions of people trudge through their lives wishing they were somewhere else. Scarves pulled tight against the chill of winter, ardently keying messages and live streaming on their phones, we are lost in the pursuit of escape. Caught in a daydream that we think can never come true. If we could, if we dug deep and really believed it was possible, how much would we change? With all the time in the world, the days pass by, the months stretch on. And we stand still. Not edging any closer to the ethereal world that fills our dreams. More than that, we resign ourselves to the daily drudgery, creating happiness in familiarity and consenting to detachment.
Happiness means something different for everyone; for me, it’s getting on a plane. I love the invincible thrill of waiting in an airport lounge. The international boarding gate is my happy place. Maybe it’s travel that’s my ultimate inspiration and the boundless opportunity that comes when I land in a place where everything is unknown. The enigma of travel pulls me in again and again. I wonder how I spent so much time working towards some corporate ideal. I wonder how many years I lost not exploring or unravelling my experiences to find what I really wanted.
Though it seems to be the motto of the day, I’m seldom inspired by the statement you make your own happiness. The day my happiness, honestly, isn’t connected to the smile of that special someone, or the spontaneous joy of being surrounded by loving friends or family, I will have scaled the ranks of inner bliss and floated above and beyond. It’s not easy to pull happiness out of thin air. I’ve tried it. Tried to float through the day wearing a wimpish smile and reading Osho quotes; then I step outside. At the first sign of getting a red light or missing an appointment, I’m back to square one. I’m not the Dalai Lama.
Maybe unhappiness is as much a part of the journey if we just listened to its calling. When we feel lost, or lonely or left behind, these are the times to look for the silver lining, to fall into the moment and then move through it, towards a happier choice. It might be fleeting and resurgent, but if we followed the path of happiness, maybe our lives would be bolder and brighter. If we were not afraid to say what happiness looked like for us, maybe we’d be better at recognising it. We’d be like wild travellers never knowing what was across the next mountain but with the faith to find out.
Travel is a beacon for many of us, a field that is more than just a place to stand. It creates chapters in our lives and carries us to new understanding. Hopefully, it reminds us of the diversity of life and the unlimited ways in which we can create our own. When we see that possibility, we move towards happiness. It’s a mindset, a fortitude and grit that is prepared to go the distance.
The possibilities for our lives are endless. There are pages waiting to be written. Secretly, underneath it all, we all want to live a life that could fill the pages of a great novel. Perhaps travel resonates so fondly with us because we’re on the move. In many ways, it’s the ability to follow our dreams, to chase happiness, that carries us where we want to be. If where we are is not fulfilling, something needs to shift. We are not bound. If our happiness is not found where we are standing, then our thinking and our feet need to move. Uplifted by the pursuit of happiness, we are all infinite travellers.