In my travels there have been three separate times when the money meter was very nearing zero for both my chequing and credit cards – even once it did hit the dreaded zero mark. My memories of these times were different than you may think. There was dread, but I also remember those times also being graced with a certain serenity of purpose. Allow me to explain more.
Usually as we go about our day to day lives the majority of us are lucky enough that we do not have to actually worry about not having enough food to eat or having a roof over our heads. A great thing right? Yes and no. In its truest form escaping these most primary of needs is essential for our wellbeing. However, the moment they are appeased a variety of secondary concerns rage to the fore front. Relationship issues, self esteem issues wanting to feel that you are taken seriously and given proper validation across your relationships. Given some connection to sociology, this is called Maslowe’s Hierarchy of needs. Basically it says when primary needs are met we will grasp for higher psychological and emotional needs.
Now back to how this relates to travel. Those times that my bank balance got precariously close to zero an odd thing happened. I became more focused then I had in my life on changing my present circumstance. In fact, it became almost the only thing I would think about. All of a sudden thoughts about ex girlfriends disappeared completely. Even questions that rung about myself disappeared, the only thing that remained was a mental world completely focused on solving my immediate issues. In earnest, I remember this clarity as somewhat serene. The turmoil of my mind was gone and in its place was clarity that was formed from pure necessity.
Never will I forget the day with my backpack laying under my head, with my worldly possessions – an alarmingly small amount of clothes and far more books than I should have been carrying, there in Earl’s Court Park in London, England. For hours I laid there watching the clouds make their journeys across the sky. I thought clearer than I ever had before about myself and what brought me to that moment. Then I stood up, used the last $4.50 I had left to make a call to a friend and began sorting out my problem.
Now don’t get me wrong, I am not suggesting in your own travels that you consider losing all of your money to experience this Zen like state. All that I am suggesting is that, clarity comes in unusual ways when you least expect it, and sometimes dealing with issues that are lower in the primary needs categories can really be a much needed reprieve.