Life Lessons on the Way to Italy

During my Alitalia flight to Rome, at around 37,000 feet when Geneva was out the window to my left, I was trying to read the on-board magazine and a phrase caught my attention, “someday this pain will be useful to you.” Perhaps it stuck out from the rest of the words on that page because it was the only portion written in English. Perhaps, I was destined to find it.

I’ve written about my journey toward and in travel before. While I talk to or hear from people every day who say they are jealous of my job and of the current life I lead, it’s not without pain. I simply avoid sharing all of it in favor of instead trying to inspire people about how great life can be when travel is a part of it. It seems a more productive way to live.

However, just because I do not talk about all the pain present in my life all the time, does not mean it is not there. I began my career in travel because of a rather bitter end to a failed marriage and a divorce that has left a gaping scar in my beliefs about love and relationships. That alone is something which cannot merely be cured with new countries, first class upgrades and decadent meals in foreign cities. Never mind that my travel is usually far more budget oriented than luxury-themed anyway, it’s beside the point. The freelance lifestyle that I lead in an industry which is largely in transition and still growing, is always a precarious one and that brings its own challenges and heartaches of unpredictability as well. A complete change of profession and direction simply doesn’t happen without pitfalls. And I am always missing someone’s birthday or bachelorette party to the point that I’m rather rubbish as a sister, daughter and friend.

Still, I believe the phrase I saw is true. Pain is useful, and I’m actually thankful for it. The pain of my failed attempt at marriage combined with all the difficulties that can be part of this life drives me to continue down a path that has led to more happiness than anything else I have ever done. It drives me to want to help people that I see also stuck in difficult circumstances either similar to mine or completely different, yet which I can speak to on some level.

Difficult personalities abound in travel and encountering them is only helping me become more compassionate and kind when I deal with people. It is indeed useful. Stereotypical travel nightmares and constant technology snags seem to befall me with the frequency of a weapon in a cheesy horror movie. This too is useful, I believe I am becoming more patient as I age and more willing to “live and let live”.

Now I haven’t arrived anywhere. I am so far from perfect it’s laughable. The pain of my past experiences and poor choices and the silly headaches that can come with frequent travel have not made me a model anything. I am learning as I go, I am determined to keep doing so and I am finding that every bad experience makes me that much more thankful for the nights like tonight where I stood in front of Fontana di Trevi watching it sparkle like something out of a Fellini movie.

Whenever something bad happens, you’ll likely hear me saying under my breath, “Someday This Pain Will Be Useful to Me.” After all, the alternative view is certainly no more palatable than the idea that all which happens to us, simply sets us up for what is coming later. Can someone who has had no pain of any kind appreciate the flip side of the coin … the one which tells us, as they say here in Italy, La vita è bella? I don’t know. But I am glad I do not have to find out.
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  • A Cook Not Mad (Nat)

    Nice post, thanks for sharing.

    • http://www.aviatorsandacamera.com/ Kirsten Alana

      Thank you for reading it and taking the time to leave a comment Nat! :)

  • http://www.hecktictravels.com/ Peter Heck

    Beautifully written and that phrase in the mag was destined for you.  The only thing written in English, i’d say it was meant for you to find…  This journey we’re on, it’s certainly not as easy as other people think it is sometimes..

    • http://www.aviatorsandacamera.com/ Kirsten Alana

      Right?! I think it really was. And no, as you and I and Dalene have discussed many times … it is not, all, easy. But I am glad we have each other and others who work in travel that can understand the balance between good and bad that this life is.

  • http://www.sandracarpenter.net/ Sandra

    Lovely, heartfelt writing. And I can relate in so many ways – I’m still learning the road too! Best of luck on the journey.

    • http://www.aviatorsandacamera.com/ Kirsten Alana

      Thank you very much Sandra!

  • Mscathy Ly

    It was destiny that I came across this blog because this particular post was exactly what I needed to read.

    I appreciate your truthfulness, inspiration, and motivation. Thank you!

    Cathy Trails

    • http://www.aviatorsandacamera.com/ Kirsten Alana

      Wow! That is *really* wonderful to hear Mscathy Ly. Thank you for taking the time to leave a comment and thank you for reading.

  • http://www.thetravelingphilosopher.com/ spencerspellman

    Well it would appear there’s more than one traveling philosopher out there in the world :)! Some gems in here and it may inspire me to finish a post I started a year ago on embracing fear. I think often fear and pain is rarely approached. Fear and pain instead approach us and the natural instinct is to escape it. Now I’m not one to just go out looking for pain, but I am becoming much more okay with it. I can without a shadow of a doubt say that I am who I am today because of past pain and how I responded to it. But travel was a major part in helping me embrace and overcome it.

    • http://www.aviatorsandacamera.com/ Kirsten Alana

      Haha!! I have always been a bit of a philosopher or just a deep thinker. Perhaps I am over serious ;) 

      But thank you for taking the time to leave a comment my fellow deep thinker. It’s been great to know you Spence and as you get more and more busy in travel it’s nice to still be able to keep in touch. It’s just wonderful the role travel has played in both our lives as a healing agent.

  • http://notinthepink.com Ceri

    That was such a personal note, Kirsten. Thank you for sharing it with us. I know what you mean about hiding that sadness that inevitably comes with travel and heartbreak. A lot of us do cover it up with photos of beautiful scenery and forced smiles of excitement. 

    • http://www.aviatorsandacamera.com/ Kirsten Alana

      Thank YOU for reading Ceri, and taking the time to leave such a nice comment.

  • http://www.asthebirdfliesblog.com/ Bird

    I like this. I enjoy your blog/tweets because I think you have the balance of beautiful travel content and personal insight just right, but every now and again it’s good to just tell your readers how it is. I think more people than not will be nodding their heads to this and recalling pain from a time gone by and I hope it motivates them too like mine does me. And that love/relationship thing – it will come and it will be beautiful (I don’t say that as a smug married – I’m not – but as someone who can’t see it not happening for you!)x

    • http://www.aviatorsandacamera.com/ Kirsten Alana

      Thank you for taking the time to leave this comment. It really means a lot to me and your encouragement is a gift. I appreciate so much that my writing and blog format style appeal to you. I don’t do it for anyone but me in the end yet the more I do it the more it becomes important that I have a bit of an audience and people who care and you are the kind of person I am writing for :)

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  • Lola

    i always love how honest you are, kirsten. you are an inspiration…scars and all!

    • http://www.aviatorsandacamera.com/ Kirsten Alana

      Thank you for saying so dear. It’s kind of the only way I know how to write but it often gets me in a lot of trouble.

  • http://twitter.com/Ayngelina Ayngelina

    My favourite posts of yours are the ones where you are vulnerable and share difficult things. As important as it is to inspire people how wonderful travel can be, it’s also just as beneficial to see that there are lows that accompany the highs.

    • http://www.aviatorsandacamera.com/ Kirsten Alana

      I really appreciate that you would say that Ayngelina! With all the talk in travel blogging about how important it is to have a niche, I struggle with what mine is or even could be. Maybe it’s that I tell it like it is and talk not just about travel but about LIFE and how travel is simply a part of mine.

      I don’t know. But I really appreciate that you took the time to tell me this :) Thank you.

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  • http://twitter.com/creative_nomad_ creative nomad

    I loved this! just discovered your writing and am officially a fan! This sotry is great and one im sure many of us can relate to in some way or another. Everything happens for a reason though doesnt it! Look forward to more of your reads!

    • http://www.aviatorsandacamera.com/ Kirsten Alana

      Thank you so much. It’s true I think, that everything happens for a reason. I’m so glad you like my writing and can relate!

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