Chasing Pigeons: How to Be Happy
It is becoming increasingly clear that the happiest people at any tourist destination, monument, or historical site are children chasing pigeons.
Without fail there are pigeons, and without fail there are children running after them, arms flapping as if they themselves might take off into the sky with their feathered playmates. Parents call halfheartedly, trying to get them to return to the ticket line or the family photo, but these children will have none of it. Screeches of delight are the only response possible.
Somewhere along the way, however, we stop chasing pigeons. We stand in queues, take photographs, stare at maps. We ooh and aah at cathedrals, admire art, plan our next stop, all the while wondering why this isn't so fun anymore.
With adulthood comes the burden of planning and preparing to make sure everything goes right. After all, travel is hard and can be expensive and wouldn't it be a shame to have everything fall to pieces because we were looking at birds?
On our last trip, we discovered that traveling really is difficult and tiring. We found ourselves with twisted ankles, sore backs, gross hair, and bad skin. I gained a lot of weight (which I have already surpassed this time around in the past two months, thanks to delicious Dutch croquettes and ice cream) and Ricky lost a lot of weight. Our diets are a mess and we're lucky if we remember to change our clothes every few days.
All told, sometimes it feels like we're falling to bits, and how can one chase pigeons in that state?
But really, it's not about the pigeons. And it's not about the falling to bits. It's about finding joy and not forcing it. It's about just doing the thing that will make you smile, no matter what that thing is. Chase the pigeons. Smell the roses. Skip the stones. Kiss your spouse on a busy train. Go skinny dipping.
We can go to all the museums and temples and monuments in the world. We can take the best photos, see the oldest whatevers. But what we remember most is the feeling we have while traveling. And isn't it better to feel love and joy than the pressure of catching trains or paying entry fees?
We are by no means experts and finding joy each day. Sometimes we rush, sometimes we focus on the wrong things. Sometimes we hole up in our hostel and keep our nose in our screens playing solitaire or reading the news when there's a whole world out there, with flocks of pigeons.
So, we'll do better. We'll do better at finding joy, taking pleasure in small moments. We'll do better to love wherever we are and truly experience it. And we'll try to do better about sharing our experiences here on the blog, on Instagram, and especially on YouTube.
And if we don't post often, well, hopefully we're out chasing pigeons somewhere.
We are currently in Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia, having arrived here from Russia on the train. Well, on several trains.
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