Thinking about what constitutes bliss for me – one experience I relish is the opportunity to travel. I have a need for new experiences and intellectual stimulation and discovering new travel destinations helps meet that need.
What is it I find so blissful in travel? Apart from discovering places that are new to me, although I do love culture and the hustle of cities, I also revel in getting away to places where the sky is wide and the night stars are not dimmed by manmade light. I also love the feel of a warm (not too scorching) sun on my skin, and the opportunity to go barefoot, or expose my feet to the elements. Sometimes I long to escape shoes. I read something once about someone’s theory that grounding or earthing yourself somehow by touching your bare feet to the earth could help ease jet lag. I have no idea about the foundations of this theory or its effect in practice, but I certainly find something elemental about walking barefoot on uneven ground or sand (preferably free from ants and snakes etc.).
In other possibly pop psychology, I’ve also read that just seeing green has a positive psychological effect on our brains and I know something in me opens up when I’m away from the concrete constructions of suburbia and instead surrounded by plants and soil. I love discovering unfamiliar species and seeing if I can spot various plants in flower. The times that I’ve been alone, or with quiet people on a path and we’ve had the opportunity to spot a bird or animal that would have otherwise gone unnoticed are times I cherish. On a visit to Kakadu, due to a series of circumstances, only a few of us in a group got to see Leichardt’s grasshopper, a bright orange creature who I’m told can only be found in one type of terrain, on one particular plant. There’s a great thrill in seeing something that is rarely seen, and seeing it not in a zoo but in it’s own habitat.
Another aspect of travel I appreciate is the random conversations and interactions that can occur. You can meet people in all sorts of situations: for example, as fellow sufferers of seasickness on a seal-watching trip in the Southern Ocean and then end up visiting a steak house together (even though you’re a vegetarian) and going to an abandoned lot to hear a rock band who do Mongolian throat singing as part of their act. It’s these interactions where your path crosses that of another that you remember, and value, even if you never meet the person again. In a place where you don’t know anyone else, and maybe where you don’t even speak the language, organic connections are made and memories of discovery shared. The bliss of travel.