You Are an Exotic Vacation

Every relationship we have offers a destination for travel

Every relationship we have offers a destination for travel

For the last 9 years I’ve been building roots in Los Angeles. I’ve also been thinking a lot about humans as destinations for travel. Rather than seeking external inputs from exotic travel and escapism, when we spend more time going inside ourselves and each other, we find an opportunity for immense growth, perhaps even the salvation of our species.

Our physical bodies can exist as our living rooms, private beaches, quiet stoops and vibrant, colorful studios. Every unique individual has many rooms. Every space can host their inner self and others. When I spend time with my friend Will I feel like I’m in a massive library or museum, full of art books, photographs and masks from other cultures. My experience of Audrey is a blend of a comfy, colorful living room from the 70s with the fireplace ablaze and the quiet calm of the woods. Maceo is a classically designed theater in the round with a freestyle cypher happening outside.

In many ways the feeling I get from connecting authentically, one on one with these friends conjures the physical spaces they come from or currently hold. I also understand that my experience is unique. They choose to let me into certain rooms, perhaps keeping other doors closed that may be open in other circumstances with other people.

Lately I’ve chosen to focus my social life into mostly solo time with close friends and family instead of having a lot of big group activities. This time has been incredibly gratifying and has given me the chance to host my closest compatriots in my physical and metaphoric rooms. I’ve learned a few things from this focusing of interpersonal time that I’d like to share…

1) A lot of our time is spent in the foyer or even outside the front door. In my experience so much time connecting with others, especially those we don’t know well, is about gliding around the exterior surfaces of our internal rooms. We are guided by questions and conversations that summarize our accomplishments or current human experiences like framed photos and diplomas but rarely speak to our passions, the things we deeply care about and how we decorate our hearts and bodies, the sacred spaces.

2) The path to deeper experience and connection, aka, entry into the special rooms, is to focus on where the passion burns most intensely. In order to get to these special spots a mutual vulnerability, attention and trust is necessary. Most people don’t share their passions or passionate energy unless they feel safe opening up, expressing themselves fully without restraint or fear of judgement or being ignored because your attention is elsewhere. Like a bedroom, where we spend our sacred time is only shared with those with whom we feel comfortable.

3) Our brains are powerful tools for avoiding our internal sanctuaries. They judge, summarize, recite resumes, ask quantitative questions and can often feel disconnected from the rest of our bodies. For some, the brain is an access point to trust and vulnerability, but in my experience it is most often an obstacle that keeps us from accessing emotional, passionate spaces.

4) While that brain filter is crucial for executing our bodily functions, I believe our hearts and our guts are the most valuable tools for engaging with other beings and the planet when it comes to interpersonal travel.

- Our heart is about compassion and relating. It’s our vulnerability center and an important organ to expose to ourselves first. When we know our hearts and we feel seen and supported by others, it may be time to share without expectation. This sharing leads to rewarding relationships and deeper feelings and human experiences.

- Our gut is often thought to be our intuitive center and neighbors our sexual organs, this is why many of us use food to satisfy our needs for intimate connection (guilty as charged). When we can intuitively feel what our bodies and our fellow humans are going through, what we/they may need or how we can support them and ourselves, and act on that intuition, we’re able to create deeper connections.

5) Listening (with all our senses), breathing, smiling, laughing, co-creating and consensual touching are often the most powerful ways to travel into our inner spaces both physically and metaphorically. We often use speaking as the first line of connection. Our words, however, are generally formed from thoughts and logic, and the sheer noise can often distract us from paying attention and finding other pathways to connect that may be more meaningful and create longer lasting, impactful relationships.

6) If we do choose to use our brains and language to connect, sharing a personal, meaningful story is often the best way. Paint a picture, share your vulnerabilities and welcome someone in to your authentic self. Skip the small talk and dig into a true, emotional, personal story that has impacted your life, you may get a great story in return!

7) Co-Creating a beautiful energetic space with another human is one of the most powerful results of a partnership and a great gift of being human. This could be intimate, committed, temporary, professional or just friendly engagement, but using your creativity and shared passion to co-create something with someone else can literally change your life. The most obvious example of this is creating another human through sexual intimacy and co-creativity, however this exists in so many other forms and shapes from dance to music, visual art to architecture. When we create with passion, we share our love with the world and that love takes on a unique energy and sense of space unto itself. Here’s a co-creative project I did with an incredible artist named Jessie that’s all about sharing love.

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8) Sometimes the dark spaces are the most rewarding. Don’t be afraid to explore the darkness with someone. There’s a lot to gain from holding space for another individual and truly listening to their challenges and understanding their dark side. These rooms may not be pretty, but once you’ve gone inside, you have opened a gateway to trust and knowing that isn’t usually accessible to anyone. With this access comes responsibility and respect, but it also gives you a chance to truly step into a role of support and love for someone with whom you may develop a long-lasting connection.

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These are a few things I’ve learned along my journey of interpersonal travel and have become guiding principles for how I aspire to live and engage with others. I am drawn to worldly people who travel and have experienced the world in many unique ways but lately I have been magnetized towards this type of interpersonal travel, seeking destinations and rooms within other human beings and finding ways to access them by sharing my own sanctuaries. While I believe in travel as a way to discover one’s self and escape from routine and patterns we naturally develop in time, I question the level of deep personal growth travel offers us if it’s pulling us out of our ‘reality’ temporarily.

I can appreciate the argument that travel is like a lens through which to re-assess, connect with other cultures and view your own cultural or personal circumstances from afar and I believe in that. However, in a time when we’re increasingly feeling connected across ‘cultures’ but disconnected from our neighbors living next door, I feel strongly that there’s so much to gain from open, vulnerable welcoming of another open person into your most real being and sacred spaces. It takes two to tango and being fearless and open to share from the heart or gut is not easy, but try being the initiator a few times and see how it feels. I’ve found the rewards to be immeasurable whether they be healing, ecstatic, co-creative, euphoric or just plain fun.


Follow Ethan on Medium for more musings. This blog originally appeared on Medium on October 26, 2017.