The travelers commandments

by Kim on April 29, 2012 · 37 comments

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.

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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. 

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{ 36 comments… read them below or add one }

Keith April 30, 2012 at 2:17 am

I think these commandment will server you well on the road. Maybe in 6 months or a year from now you can revisit this post and give examples of how you used these in practice.

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Kim April 30, 2012 at 5:15 pm

Keith, I do hope to revisit and write about times that I succeeded (or failed) at following these commandments.

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Pan April 30, 2012 at 7:05 am

These all sound like good commandments even if you’re not traveling the globe!

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Kim April 30, 2012 at 5:16 pm

Yes, it’s true, I use (and will use) them in all situations- traveling or not!

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Anita and Chas April 30, 2012 at 8:59 am

Kim and Brian: Chas and I are so happy for you, and so proud that you are living your dream. Enjoy every minute!

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Kim April 30, 2012 at 5:16 pm

Thanks Anita :) I wish we weren’t missing you in Morgantown.

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Jaclyn April 30, 2012 at 9:22 am

These are great for travelling but also to live by everyday. I totally agree with needing a path back to yourself. I love that you took what is important to you and created this for yourself.

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Kim April 30, 2012 at 5:17 pm

Thanks Jaclyn. I’m going to carry it in my wallet. It’s easy to forget the path back to yourself, even when you follow it often.

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Steve Whitty April 30, 2012 at 10:40 am

Thank you for the commandments. I hope that they serve you well on your trip. I will try to live by these when I travel.

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Kim April 30, 2012 at 5:17 pm

Thanks Steve, I think they will :)

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Traveling Ted April 30, 2012 at 10:47 am

We used to have this neighbor who was a fishing guide in northern Minnesota and a former trapper and logger. His favorite wilderness ethos was “you got to use your god damn head.” Kind of like your commandment number 1, but with a little more local color.

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Kim April 30, 2012 at 5:17 pm

Hahaha, I love it! It’s true.

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Carmel April 30, 2012 at 10:56 am

I read this last night, but had to sit on it for awhile before I responded. I love the commandment about compassion because I think it can take us so far in life. I saw this quote and thought it fit well with your understanding of compassion.

“True compassion does not come from wanting to help out those less fortunate than ourselves but from realizing our kinship with all beings.” – Pema Chodron.

This is one of the reasons I love traveling–experiencing first hand how much we really have in common with each other, despite differences in religions, opinions, and experiences.

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Kim April 30, 2012 at 5:18 pm

So true, Carmel, that is what draws me to traveling as well. Thanks for the quote, I love it.

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Rhonda April 30, 2012 at 12:10 pm

Beautiful and truthful! You always inspire me to be the best I can be!

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Kim April 30, 2012 at 5:18 pm

Awww, thanks Rhonda. That is the highest compliment.

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Dustin April 30, 2012 at 9:16 pm

Very well said and thought out, I am especially fond of #7 as I have found this to be true and in hindsight the harder the struggle you faced the deeper the memory is cemented and stays with you in a positive light of triumph of knowing what you can overcome

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Kim May 1, 2012 at 5:44 pm

Dustin, I totally agree with this- I haven’t experienced it much in traveling but in other parts of life, definitely.

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Ali May 1, 2012 at 5:15 am

I love this post! It’s great to have things like this written down so you can look at it as a reminder when you’re feeling lost.

Your trip is almost here! So exciting!

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Kim May 1, 2012 at 5:45 pm

Almost here… less than there weeks. OOMMMMGGGGGGG!!!!

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Tiffany May 1, 2012 at 9:52 am

Kim- you’ve definitely started a trend here! Thank you so much for this..for being exactly who you are. You’ve inspired me endlessly (and countless others I’m sure), so, for that I send you the most humble and heartfelt thank you…I’m definitely going to write my own ’10 Commandments of Travel’ before I set off next week…

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Kim May 1, 2012 at 5:45 pm

Tiffany, thank YOU, that is the highest of compliments. I’d love to hear your 10 Commandments when you write them out.

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Ayngelina May 1, 2012 at 8:22 pm

Love this post, I really learned to listen to my gut especially when I thought people may be trying to take advantage of me.

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Kim May 2, 2012 at 9:46 pm

Ayngelina, I think the gut has all the answers, yes? Did it ever steer you wrong?

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Catherine May 1, 2012 at 10:12 pm

Apart from the fact that I too find your commandments vey pertinent, I really like this post because it made me ´pause to think about how spirituality is tied up with travel. For me personally, being out there in the real world is tons better than following a book (no disrespect intended).
Afterall, as you point out, the scriptures are about guiding you back to your soul place, teaching you how to live richer and more peacefully, and seriously, there is nothing quite like living through the joys and challenges of travel to force you into learning certain things. You are going to love this adventure and I think your soul will too :)

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Kim May 2, 2012 at 9:49 pm

I really think you are right, I that me (and my soul) will love every minute of it.

It’s hard to write about this topic without turning everyone off! The non-believers don’t want to hear about it and those that follow religions more… err… religiously might think that I am being flippant. But I really do think that there is a spirituality that transcends it all. I am so excited to get out into the world.

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Bruce and Trisha May 2, 2012 at 4:12 am

Kim, when I read the title of this blog post, I knew it was going to be a keeper . . . and it is. I’m going to print the list and post it in our camper – for inspiration and reflection. Your words resonate strongly with my heart and stir up beliefs and values that are true for us, too. Thank you for being a way-show-er!

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Kim May 2, 2012 at 9:50 pm

Thank you!!! It is an honor to think that you’d read the commandments for inspiration and reflection (as I do/will). Thank you for reading and following along and for your kind words :)

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Teri May 2, 2012 at 5:12 am

It is almost like my Grandma speaking to me =)
I am printing 2 copies ~ 1 for the camper & 1 for the house. Great words to live by each & every day! Thank you for sharing.

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Kim May 2, 2012 at 9:50 pm

Yay!!! Grandmas always know whats up.

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Cristina (@thetravolution) May 2, 2012 at 1:17 pm

#10 really resonates with me. I owe much of my growth to my community and those around me! I try to surround myself with positive people as much as I can. The kind of people that are great to learn from and better ourselves

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Kim May 2, 2012 at 9:54 pm

Ah, totally agree. People make all the difference.

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Jeff G May 11, 2012 at 3:10 pm

You are a true inspiration to this old man. Your words reach right in to my soul and provide that much needed spark. I am envious of your travelin’ shoes, but I am proud to know you .. who and what you are. Best of luck on your journeys and discoveries. I will be following via the blog.

One old soul to another …

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Kim May 12, 2012 at 10:07 am

Jeff! I have always thought of you as a like-minded soul and am so glad we’ve met. Keep the spark, pleeease, because it is such an amazing part of who you are. You have inspired me countless times.

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Sarah Somewhere May 14, 2012 at 11:40 am

I LOVED this BTW! Tyrhone just read your latest post over my shoulder, said “What’s that?” about this post, and after reading it, turned to me and said he liked #7 the best, and I’m like “Oh and I suppose you are directing that at me?!” which he totally was. Justifiably :)

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Kim May 14, 2012 at 8:12 pm

Hahahha. Oh, the only reason I wrote number seven is because it is a MAJOR lesson I need to learn/continuously remind myself of. You are not alone Sarah!

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