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  • Writer's picturePatty McDuffey

The World is My Friend

As I sit on the deck, outside of Gothenburg, Sweden, drinking my Gevalia coffee (with my favorite brand of oat milk I was so delighted to learn was Swedish!) on this beautiful summer solstice just before Midsommar, I find myself inspired to write about Health. We could just look up the definition in the dictionary, or Google it, or ask Alexa or Siri. But this would only give us a boxed definition. As I embark on this long-term travel expedition to various countries, I’m reminded of one of the main reasons we travel, or in some way expose ourselves to other cultures. We like to witness what other people and cultures do and why they do it. It may not always be about health. But health will come into the picture eventually. We may find ourselves eating a breakfast in France, or a French breakfast in Portland, of croissants and butter and jam, coffee and cream and wonder how the French manage to at least appear to be so healthy when they eat such rich foods. Or we may find ourselves in Sweden where walking and biking are common forms of transportation and wonder if we walked or biked more, would our circulation, aches and pains improve (generally speaking..the answer is yes!). We cannot truly experience different cultures without noticing what people do and trying to understand why they do it. And hopefully (one of) the next questions we ask ourselves is how can we learn and improve our own health and lives (and subsequently that of those around us) by learning from other cultures. From my perspective, this is how we customize that boxed definition of health and transform it into a working, fluid definition that helps us feel content, alive and connected.

Health is not just going to the doctor, taking medication and eating your vegetables. Health is everywhere! It’s in the time we take to eat our meals. It’s how our nervous system is oriented while eating those meals. It’s in the felt experience of neighborhood safety. It’s in the way we incorporate movement into our daily lives. It’s in the way we incorporate stillness on a daily basis. I’m convinced that health is the bedrock of our lives. Most other cultures in the world are much older that the American, non-Native culture. Empirical evidence is valuable! It seems to me that when we can watch and observe, over hundreds, or even thousands of years, the results of our choices as human beings, we can learn an immense amount about ourselves and our environment and what creates health. And the best part for our insatiable appetites, is we get to taste that buttery croissant, see different mountain ranges and world-famous peaks, hear the inflections of different languages, and meet the people who are not just fascinating individuals with their own stories to tell, but who are parts of the whole of the society in which they live.

I recently heard the quote, “And if travel is like love, it is, in the end, mostly because it's a heightened state of awareness, in which we are mindful, receptive, undimmed by familiarity and ready to be transformed. That is why the best trips, like the best love affairs, never really end.” (I’m sorry…I can’t find the author. But whoever said it…you’re spot on!)

We will see where this journey takes me. I have many ideas and curiosities and have been preparing for nearly 3 years for this life change. I left for Europe on June 1, a bit nervous I must admit. And today, on June 21, the Summer Solstice, I’m reminded of one of my mantras. The world is my friend.

If you’re interested or intrigued by what I have to say, reach out in the comments below, PM me, or just follow along with your favorite cup of coffee or tea. I look forward to hearing from you. Namaste.

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