culture & community travel

Portals, Travel, & Transitions

by Sara — August 29, 2016


Finding Beauty, portals, Addis Ababa, transitionsFinding Beauty

The troubles with travelling & living abroad, and how the mind acts as a portal to help ease the transition. You’re in one place but thinking about the other; simultaneously exploring where you are going to and where you are coming from.

I am back in Ethiopia after a very extended visit with family and friends in Canada. It can be a difficult transition for me – it often feels like stepping through a portal; the kind where you test it with your hand first, watching part of your body be in one world, while you remain in the other. Except for me, my physical body is in Ethiopia but my head remains in Canada. My thoughts will eventually catch up to my body. Unlike portals, which instantaneously transport you to the next world once you cross over, it is a slow process of monitoring how I feel from one day to the next and going with what sparks some joy.

I wish I could snap my fingers and feel instantly settled. In fact, it’s been an ongoing process of settling over a decade and I am realizing more and more it will always be this way. There is comfort in knowing and accepting it will never be 100%. As my cousin wisely told me when I was in Canada, “it’s progress, not perfection.” I can safely say I am making progress and finding joy.

The trouble is, progress and joy can look an awful lot like monotony and routine to others. In the jumbled place where you make your way through the process of settling, monotony and routine are a comfort. I am already pushing myself out of my element every single day here on the other side of my portals in Addis Ababa. So I take comfort in cozying up on the couch with a podcast, I take comfort in eating the cheese I smuggled across borders, I take comfort where I’m comfortable. There is nothing wrong with that.

hot tea, Addis Ababa, portals, transition, bad weather, gloomy, travel

Hot tea anyone?

In this comfort there is room for change. I have dreams and plans and goals and hopes on top of wondrous moments and love and fucking joy. I’m doing it the best way I know how. There is nothing wrong with that.

So portals, be damned. Let me combine all that is my experience into the next stage of transition. ‘Cause it’s always ongoing, isn’t it?


The troubles with travelling from one place to another & how your mind becomes a portal to help you ease the transition from one place to another.

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