I am writing this post while my departure is only a few days away.

I’m about to cross over to Europe a couple of times, first to Belgium to attend a wonderful training in Emotionally Focused Therapy for Families, EFFT, Level 2, and then to Poland, to repeat to go even deeper into EFIT training with two very good trainers, Karin Wagenaar and Jef Slootmaekers [with whom by the way we will be conducting a very interesting workshop together on shame in November].

But most importantly, in about ten days, I will be crossing the Atlantic Ocean bound for Brazil to follow the development of Brazilian communities and conduct some Core Skills and Externships, and I am thinking about the journey I am about to take.

I think about this journey, but also about the Journey itself.
To its emotional meaning, to its symbolic meaning, to its physiological meaning….
To its effects. To its powers.

The journey does not begin when we leave.
Not when we leave the house and slip into traffic.
Not even when we are on board the vehicle we have chosen to move.

The journey always starts with a “what if.”


At that very moment, our mind is already in motion.

The body is still at home, or in the studio, but the thought has already left the room.

This reminds me of the journeys of the imagination I used to read about “Alessio” when I was a child, a book that everyone should read, a book that was my imaginary friend and that initiated me into the journey even before the journey itself….


In a split second, we see ourselves already on the road, already far from the everyday landscape, already projected forward.
Deciding what to pack, choosing how to move, by what means, at what cost, are extra details.
The extraordinary power of our imagination does not need a ticket to get going: as soon as we choose to go, she, the imagination, immediately starts making predictions and forecasts. In a jiffy, there she is immediately projecting us elsewhere.

When the journey is underway and the body is moving, while the scenery outside changes, the scenery inside also changes.
We cross spaces and times, we cross borders, passes and oceans.
We do this in a physical sense, and in a symbolic sense.

Every crossing is an exploration.


Every exploration is a vacation, it is a literal “vacatio,” a suspension that opens up new territories for us.
Each new territory leaves us with a gift of thaumaturgical powers, capable of healing our souls, opening our hearts and sometimes even healing our bodies.

The seven thaumaturgical powers of travel

  1. The Dilemma
  2. The Waiting and Preparation
  3. The Discovery of the Other
  4. The Wonder of Diversity
  5. The Discovery of Ourselves
  6. Nostalgia
  7. The Return

The dilemma: to leave or not to leave?

“The only thing more unthinkable than leaving was staying; the only thing more impossible than staying was leaving.”

Elizabeth Gilbert, “Eat, Pray, Love”

As soon as we ask ourselves whether we should set out, while one part of our soul is already at the destination, another part is coming to terms with the daily grind and routine.
On the one hand the urge to leave, on the other hand the thousands of commitments on the calendar, the doubts and the innate resistance to the unknown. There’s no need to think about it consciously: every time we imagine moving away from the nest, feeling some anxiety is not just “normal”: it’s physiological!

The anticipation

“Never forget that, until the day when God deigns to reveal to man the secrets of the future, all the highest wisdom of a man will consist in these two words: ‘To wait and to hope.'”

  • Alexandre Dumas (father), The Count of Monte Cristo, 1844

Waiting is loaded with suggestions, questions, and hopes.
But also of fears, of small and great anxieties, of other “what if…”
Of steps forward and second thoughts….
Until the moment when we dissolve the dilemma. Until our soul feels ready to embrace the unknown of the journey.
From here on, the clouds begin to dissipate and the path unravels, unfurling before us like a magic carpet.

Discovery of the Other

Exploration takes us into a new world.
An “Other” world, made up of sights, scents, foods, cultures different from our ordinary ones. A universe of people equal to us, yet distant.


The same skeleton, the same cells, the same complicated life system always seeking balance. Yet different clothes. Other aromas, other fabrics, architectures and landscapes. Habits and customs to which we are not accustomed.
Faced with the world Other, we can clam up.
Faced with differences, we can annihilate ourselves and let fear of the unknown take over.

This reaction and related emotions are also physiological, even instinctive because life pursues survival by trying as much as possible to avoid uncertainty.
Therefore, at the biological level, living creatures prefer familiarity to uncertainty, relatives to non-relatives, the like to all others.
This is a preference that humans have in common with animals, but also with plants, as botanical sciences have recently shown.
Unlike other mammals and plants, however, we evolved because of our ability to form bonds, as Sue Johnson also teaches us, talking about Homo Vinculum (here is the post for more).

Over the course of two to three hundred thousand years, we have grown through relationships.


Through our ability to overcome our fear of the unknown, we have given ourselves the opportunity to discover the wonder of diversity and its extraordinary thaumaturgic power.

The Wonder of Diversity


Exposing ourselves to the world Other is something that is good for the soul.
It opens our horizons.
It shows us new scenarios.
It reveals to us possibilities and realities that until a moment before were alien to us.
It makes us a little less closed, a little less hesitant and quite a bit softer!

And that would already be a lot, but that is not all!

Opening ourselves to diversity is not only good for the soul, it is incredibly good for the body as well.

  • Every time, for example, we taste a food that is different from the ordinary, without realizing it, we are improving our body’s biodiversity.
  • Every time we change scenery, we push our brain to make new connections.

The discovery of us


Exploring the world Other can also give us an opportunity for an endogenous journey of self-discovery.


Stepping out of the ordinary and into the extraordinary, on the one hand, allows us to experience the vastness of other universes.

On the other, it can help us better understand our own, perhaps even feeling that it doesn’t matter how far away the other is … because like us, he or she is a person who experiences emotions that are more or less strong, more or less pleasant, but all valid, all okay!

It helps us recognize and review our priorities, breaking away from routine shuffles our cards, we have to reorganize time, the really important things to do or to leave behind. It makes us select and stay in the small, take a tiny part of our world with us to enter a bigger world.

It makes us more flexible. And we’ve talked a lot about that in this post if you want to know more.

It also makes us more patient, in a journey a thousand and one things can happen, which can upset us, change plans, put us in the condition as well as of flexibility also of patience because simply some things we couldn’t do all of them right away, or sometimes we couldn’t do them at all because of conditions out of our control.

So our patience is sometimes very much tested, on different occasions, but it certainly also goes to strengthen it.

Nostalgia


Travel also has a sixth power. That of making us feel nostalgia, a feeling that is often underestimated, when not misunderstood.
Nostalgia is a magnificent feeling that tells us about ties and roots.


Of family.
Of attachment.


Nostalgia reminds us that there is a world to which we long to return.

A physical place, perhaps, but mostly a place of the soul, inhabited by the people we love. These people are waiting for us. They are there for us, to watch our backs and offer us their warmth.

The Return


The seventh and final power of the journey lies in the return.
The moment the journey is over, we are home again.
We are us again, but we are also new because of the Other world we have explored and experienced.
Sharing the journey is not just reliving it, but includes sharing our great little discoveries.

Be brave, if you can, travel!

“Traveling?
To travel is enough to exist
I pass from day to day
as from station to station
In the train of my destiny
Overlooking the windows and the squares
On the gestures and faces
always the same and always different
as in the end are the landscapes. ” Fernando Pessoa