I think one of the things that first attracted me most to Latin America was the spiritual side of the culture. It is something that is not really part of Australian culture (although sometimes I think football might be a replacement) and I was yearning for more of it.
My first trip there, when I was 20, was a kind of “coming of age pilgrimage” and I went from Mexico all the way down to Machu Picchu.
I was a young boy and felt I needed to grow into a man, and a few robberies, a kidnapping, a love affair and a meeting with a shaman later, I definitely felt like I had grown up.
That was twenty years ago now, and after that trip I somehow forgot about my initial reason for going… I came back to Australia and “created a life” for myself – opening a business and buying a home and aiming for more….
I had left behind that spiritual yearning and I think it was to my detriment.
My life became full of things but empty of true happiness. Happiness became based on acquisitions and “peak experiences” rather than a constant state of being.
In the last few years I’ve started dancing, meditating, learning, spending more time in nature and spending more time with friends – things that bring me happiness on a deeper level. And I’m starting to reconnect with that younger, more spiritually inclined side of myself again…
And guess what? My life has been a whole lot better since. I’ve been happier on a day to day level, and feel happy and grateful for what I’ve got rather than always wanting more.
Anyway, if you’d like to incorporate more spiritually nourishing activities into your life rather than just stimulating ones, learning another language is a fantastic way of doing it – improving not only your mind but your contact with others in a meaningful way.