It’s nearly Thanksgiving here in the States. For many it’s a time of gratitude and appreciation for family and friends, for others it’s a reminder of loved ones lost and others are reminded of how far the reach is to a bed, a meal, a shower. Many businesses and charities make traditional meals  available to those in need, soup kitchens put on bigger spreads and food drives are on overdrive.

I remember one Thanksgiving eve that I walked through downtown San Diego with a gaggle of volunteers dispensing sandwiches and meals to those making their homes that evening on the emotionally chilly if not actually cold streets.We were a drop in the bucket of endless need. My way home was sober knowing that this is just one evening in the year when we’re reminded to be thankful.

So today I am thinking of gratitude and connection, not just to each other but to our mother, Earth. Where is our gratitude for her support and patience? There is so much in flux at this time in terms of our species existence. The planet is changing and I won’t get into the argument over what are or aren’t the reasons. We may be looking into a future of struggling to survive that could put us all “out on the streets” looking for a way to stay warm and fed OR there may be great opportunities to do things differently. Perhaps, as many indigenous people around the world have done, we’ll find sustainability through conscious practices with long term vision.

I love to travel and encourage others to do so as well. We learn so much about ourselves and from one another when we venture out of our comfort zone. While it’s wonderful to take vacations and revive from long hours working hard, there’s also something else going on – or there can be. As an independent traveler, I’m more inclined to hop a train, plane or bus on a whim than to book a tour or cruise. I like my feet on the ground, freedom from a schedule and have found that traveling simply, comfortably but modestly helps me better connect with the places and people I’m visiting. It’s a big reason I leave home in the first place, whether it’s across the county or the world. Miriam Beard has said that,

“Travel is more than the seeing of sights; it is a change that goes on, deep and permanent, in the ideas of living.”

Those deep and permanent changes are tempting and intriguing. It may mean that on some level travel is always a reflection of selfishness. I’ve heard that said of love too and who would not support the engendering of love in the human heart?

So thank you. Here’s to gratitude and appreciation for the chance to share these thoughts, for family returning, for new friends joining us and for the shared nourishment, on many levels, that we so need in this world of change and struggle as well as wonder and love.

May you and yours enjoy the holiday,


Elaine J. Masters

Travel writer, co-host of San Diego Travel Massive.

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