I am not a follower of any particular religion.
Instead, my beliefs have evolved to include a variety of spiritual practices. I’m as likely to pray to God as I am to celebrate the solstice and I regularly refer to the mountains and mossy green forests of Oregon as my church. I shy away from the dogma of any specific denomination, but I’m a hodge-podge of beliefs that resonate with me. I think that almost all faiths point towards the same great light anyway.
While I don’t personally follow a sacred text like Christianity’s King James Bible or Judaism’s Torah, I think that I am beginning to understand, at least on a fundamental level, what these sacred texts offer their followers. What they offer is a path home. When the believer is lost, the sacred text is the compass, guiding him or her back to the core of who they are.
As I get ready to leave on this great adventure and step out into the unknown, there is a lot of uncertainty about what the future holds. And I am feeling the desire right now to create something, my own sacred text, that reminds me of my personal ethos so that when I am scared or tired and far from home, standing in the rain on the side of the road feeling defeated and bitchy, I, too, will have a compass to guide me back to myself.
So I wrote a sort of personal 10 Commandments and I’m sharing them with you. These commandments are the values that I want to uphold on the road, my own collection of words to live by, a guide that I can routinely visit to make sure that I am living up to my own standards.
My 10 Commandments of Travel
Commandment 1: Be smart but not afraid. Do not make decisions out of fear. Listen to your gut.
Commandment 2: Do the things that make you come alive. Happiness is not a selfish endeavor but a gift you give the world. Live unabashedly.
Commandment 3: Be compassionate and take the high road. You do not know the struggles of others. You are wrong to assume that you know what others are feeling or the reasons behind their actions. Most people are doing the best they can. Even if they’re not, it only matters that you do.
Commandment 4: Be thankful and express gratitude every day. You are blessed beyond belief.
Commandment 5: Stand up for yourself. It is not rude to speak up if you are being taken advantage of. But be fair and respectful even in disagreement.
Commandment 6: It is okay that tomorrow is uncertain. Life is not about certainty. You will be given what you need when you need it, as you have always been.
Commandment 7: When you are exhausted and uncomfortable everyone else probably is too. Complaining just adds to the noise.
Commandment 8: Exercise and take time for yourself, alone. When you are at your best those around you benefit too.
Commandment 9: No one and no thing is more important than anything else and no less important than you. Everything is connected- the bugs, the plants, the animals and the humans. Leave a place how you found it, or better.
Commandment 10: Reach out to people. Say yes more than no. Accept invitations. Remember what Wendall Berry said: It is not from ourselves that we learn to be better than we are.
A few weeks ago I was talking this idea over with my brilliant friend Leah who reminded me that, while I am setting out on a literal journey, life, and the act of living it each day, is a journey on its own. As such, perhaps we should all have our own Commandments to guide us, whether we’re traveling the world or traversing the complicated existance of 9-5 in a cubicle.
And so, in the spirit of remembering that we are all on a journey, I encourage you to write your own Commandments and I’d love it if you shared a few or all of them in the comments below.