Turbulence of Re-Entry...Adventure’s Aftermath
I have come to anticipate the turbulence of re-entry following leading a Birds Eye Adventure. My own feelings are coupled with a keen awareness of the challenges the participants are experiencing when they re-enter the day-to-day after a seizing an opportunity to get away and regain perspective. In my personal life, I recently returned from what now feels like “a trip of a lifetime” with my 10-year old daughter to the United Kingdom. It was a chance to reconnect with the landscapes, accents, homes, haunts, and hearts of my early childhood for the first time in decades. Planning for this trip brought me great joy for months prior, the details of which I savored: crafting the itinerary, communicating with hosts, studying mileage estimates and map lines, constantly revising the packing list so everything could fit in a small backpack. For the itinerary lovers, this trip included: four nights in London, two nights in Cragg Vale in Yorkshire before crossing into Scotland and heading up to the west coast area south of Oban near Inverary for one night, 3 nights on the Isle of Iona, followed by two nights outside of Edinburgh near The Scottish Borders, and one night back in London.
Each day on this trip I awoke with simultaneous senses of anticipation and ease, knowing I had another day of exploration stretched out in front of me. My daughter and I shared good laughs every day, a brief spat most days, and engaged in the life-lesson learning together that I find only travel can provide. And eventually the time came to return home. I will say, we are lucky to live in a beautiful place and to have a community of family and friends that was enthusiastic for our return. And yet, the bumps of re-entry still met me head on, ones not just attributable to the very real physical funk of jet lag, but ones of emotional and mental lagging, the kinds that feel more nuanced and trickier to navigate. Feelings of longing began emerging like storm clouds. Apathy towards existing commitments was commonplace. Disillusion or insecurity surfaced about the right path forward. All of this was coupled with a lack of desire to reconnect at home in fear that more connection to the mundane would speed up the imminent receding of the sense of aliveness that was omnipresent on the adventure.
And so what do you say to those who you convince to join you on adventures for a living when they face their own bumps in re-entry? I have been giving this thought in recent days. Speaking from my own experience this time around, the process of re-entry is one that I find is being eased by acknowledging and incorporating these three elements into my current days: permission, patience, and practice.
Permission first from yourself to re-acclimate and expect less of yourself for a stretch. Trust that the subconscious is busy working for you cataloguing the recent experiences in your internal library. Permission to cancel engagements that aren’t necessary and steer off-road here and there to allow for “zone outs”. Ask permission from others close to you to honor your necessary buffer zone, and build that buffer into your calendars and vacation settings.
Patience with yourself as well as those around you who are trying to figure out why you aren’t simply happy to be home or aren’t “performing” like you did prior. Patience with the fact that the true teachings of our best adventures don’t always present themselves right away and that the more meaningful the experience the longer the key insights sometimes take to emerge. Patience with those who aren’t able to take in your great adventure stories and who aren’t able to be present with you in the way your traveling companions were.
Practice something every day.
I encourage you to return to the practices that were most sustaining to you prior to your adventure as soon as you can, (or maybe create a new one as a result of something you discovered on your adventure). Often when we travel, our best practices that keep us connected to ourselves fall away as we engage with all of the new exciting stimuli of the new landscape. Resuming or creating a simple daily practice helps me to smooth out the bumps more quickly. It may be sitting quietly with a cup of coffee on the porch in the morning, resuming a weekly phone call with a dear friend, writing for 10 minutes a day, committing to reading a chapter of a book each evening, or picking up the dusty instrument. After a few days of sustaining a practice, I often re-meet myself in an oddly familiar yet reframed state of being.
One last note…I encourage you to allow one adventure to inform the next. It is common practice for me to book a plane flight to somewhere else shortly upon a return from a recent trip. This act keeps the adventurer’s heartbeat going. I look forward to sharing more in coming months about how this particular trip and reconnection with the UK is informing Birds Eye’s future adventures, as every personal trip ends up evolving into a scouting trip. So, for now, you can stow away the possibility of joining me for:
Birds Eye Scotland 2019.