Adjusting to real life after a vacation.
Italy was a life long dream. While tourism made some parts of the trip challenging, the country still lived up to my imagination. It even came close to living up to the many movies set in the Tuscan vineyards and the narrow, medieval streets of the cities. I had such positive experiences as a solo traveler, that I plan to go back in the Spring.
Which made coming back home difficult.
We’ve all been there. Mountain top experiences that make your real world seem almost wrong and even unfamiliar. Maybe yours, like mine, are from trips to dreamed of places. Or, also like me, you have had transformational experiences at seminars, conferences, vision quests, or spiritual and religious retreats. Those returns are particularly difficult, because the experiences are shared with other people, many of whom you will never see again. And people mired in unhappiness at home are often not open to hearing about your experiences. In fact, the term mountain top experience is often used disparagingly by those who don’t welcome change in their own lives.
How do we ease back into our subjective reality after mind-blowing, transforming, or even just pleasurable trips to the mountain top? I know John Gorman has dealt with this, and you probably have, too.
Food is an international language.
While in Florence, I said to another tourist, “I can’t believe I’m saying this, but I’m getting tired of pasta.” Sacrilege, I know. But Florence and Cinque de Terre, Italy, cater to the tourist belief that Italy means hand-made pasta. So, except for the days I ordered huge salads, I ate pasta twice a day for ten days. And being freshly hand-made, it was incredible. I also ate gelato most days, partly because I don’t allow myself those two foods at home. However, there can be too much of a good thing, as I said to my fellow tourist, and she laughed and said she had told the same thing to her husband. Enough is enough.
So the first thing I bought at Central Market after returning home was bronze cut, Italian pasta. And then I bought a gelato. Go figure.
No, the store bought pasta is not the same. But it helped me postpone full entry into my usual world. Gelato isn’t as good here either, but the sugar and chocolate raised my serotonin levels enough to make me feel nearly as happy as I did in Italy.
Do what you did.
I walked at least five miles a day in Italy. Originally, I had planned to stay in a remote Tuscan village thirty minutes from Florence, and rent a car. Thank the heavens, and my son who had gone the summer before and advised against it, I didn’t. The streets within Florence are very narrow, and filled with tourists. The street signs are on the tops of the walls of buildings, and, just to make it more fun, the names of streets change mid-stream. In Montorrosso, while sitting in front of a cafe, a truck came within inches of me when the driver swerved to get a cigarette from the man next to me. I’m brave enough to travel alone, but may not ever be brave enough to drive in a foreign country.
Upon return to my home, I began mapping the places I frequent to see if I could walk to them. So far, the only places I’ve managed to walk are to the leasing center of my apartments and to the corner store. Neither of these are five miles away, so I’m going to do a couple of longer walks this week. Walking in Italy made me realize a lot of my physical issues are the result of a forced (by professions) sedentary life. I plan to offer all of my clients the choice to walk and talk.
Tell others about your journeys.
This is something I have found difficult to do in past mountain top experiences. In the case of retreats and seminars, sometimes there is no shared language with those back at home. And ephemeral experiences are hard to describe. But I found that the grounded or high flying feelings go away sooner if I don’t talk about them. I also have never been one who shows pictures of my trips, nor particularly wants to see pics from others’ trips. But I know that some people do enjoy that. So now, when people ask me about my trip, or to see my pictures, I tell them and show them. And if they want me to look at theirs, I will.
That’s what connection and communication are for. To expand our own world view through the eyes of others.
Use what you learned.
So, whether you are bringing back photos, stories, enhanced understanding, meditation practices, or renewed physical, emotional and/or spiritual health, use them. Put new practices into daily routine. Live fully wherever you are. Having a fully rounded self makes for softer landings. And I’m not just talking about the added padding from pasta and gelato.