What’s the purpose of your holiday?

I was sitting on a train, pondering about a message I had received from a friend:

“If you find it useful, write down your intentions for this trip,

enjoy the moments in the present,

and catch what life brings in your way.”

For someone who naturally reflects on everything, even the most unnecessary things at times, I found it almost shocking that I hadn’t considered any purpose for my trip. I knew I had gotten a little lost the past years, not quite feeling like myself, but to bring my “doing” self to a holiday trip. Traveling had been the one medicine that would grant me inner freedom and peace and would bring out the curious creative person; it was the activity worth my last euro while I would cut the costs of almost anything else (until I landed a normal paying job as most people had much earlier in their lives). I realised that what I had done with my trip was to consider requirements — requirements!? I didn’t want to drive or fly, so train was a good option; I had a concert ticket, so I should combine this and go south, etc.

So I took a deep breath and I tried to do what my friend advised me, 1) consider my intention (within the limits that I had already set for myself).

Not so surprisingly, reflection and learning seemed like the best outcome I could think of. Below are a few, somewhat random, thoughts and realisations that followed a hike in Switzerland, boat cruises on Garda lake, and other quiet moments that I managed to fit in the busy schedule.

  • Instead of a tightly planned itinerary with a lot of cities and crowded places, my real need was for new energy, a quiet place to process topics (that I’ve avoided), and a chance to connect with myself and those I care about.
  • I needed to accept that my sense of freedom doesn’t come from traveling anymore, and I shouldn’t depend on this distraction/relief/addiction anymore.
  • I am not who I used to be, and that is okay. So the question is how do I want to reinvent myself. Who do I want to be and become next? What would Oona 2.0 look like?
  • The past years I’ve numbed part of my intuition and distracted myself from some of the things that matter to me and what I think is right – or more precisely, what feels right – and while the answers may be scary, I shouldn’t waste more time on things (and people) that don’t bring me value, or I don’t bring value to them.
  • The two most important words in relationships might be: sorry and thanks (?)
  • It’s most important to be kind.
  • It was nice to come home, to have a place that has started to adopt the word’s true meaning.

2) To enjoy the present, I reminded myself several times a day (aloud in my mind): “I have never seen this moment before.”  This felt silly at first, but every time it would stop my racing mind and make me realise that indeed I never had or would experience that exact moment; this made each frozen minute like a photograph that I could observe until the life and thoughts moved on again (too quickly).

3) And there were some unexpected joys. A calm evening in Venice which inspired most of my photos with a pleasant light and beautiful architecture. The lost appreciation toward swimming and paddling on a lake which were some of my biggest childhood joys. And Italian gelato (no further explanation needed for this one).