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Enhancing Life Through Engagement

The Traveler Within

By Val Jon

“Love life, engage in it, give it all you’ve got, love it with a passion because life truly does give back, many times over what you put into it.”

–Maya Angelou

There is no doubt that travelers “love life and engage in it with passion.” However, the notion of “giving it all you’ve got” is an elevated degree of engagement that only the most dedicated travelers rise to. Maya Angelou’s quote also suggests an intriguing investment proposition, a kind of law of exponential reciprocation in which life recognizes our degree of participation and rewards us many times over for it. This is a curious notion and invites a deeper inquiry into its meaning, so let’s explore it now.

As a longtime outdoorsman, I can relate to life’s reciprocation. If I want a fish for breakfast, I need to catch one. Likewise, if I want heat and light, I need to build a campfire and keep it stoked with wood. No wood, no heat or light. But Maya Angelou’s quote ventures beyond the bounds of mere equitable exchange by suggesting that life gives back to us many times over. So how does this work? How might we engage in the activity of catching a meal in a way that causes life to feed us for a lifetime . . . or at least for a few days?

The key is in exploring the underlying meaning of the word engage. From Anglo-French, engager, en- means “to give” and gage means “to pledge of one’s self.” So what does it mean to give of and pledge of ourselves? The answer depends on how we define our “self” or who we consider ourselves to be.

For those who closely identify who they are with their physical form, their main venue of engagement in life is through their body. For those who associate themselves with their mental prowess, their mind is their foremost means of engagement. Those who associate themselves with feelings and emotions engage with life via the vulnerability of the heart. And those who have cultivated a spiritual persona engage in life through the divinity of the soul.

Having multiple expressions of body, mind, heart, and soul to offer life in exchange for its exponential reciprocations now becomes understandable. The opportunity to engage in life fully is to give and pledge ourselves in not just one way, but in multiple ways. With each additional way we give of ourselves to life, life gives back to us many times over.

For example, if we pledge our bodies to engage in exercise, life will reward us with greater health and vitality. And while we engage with our bodies, if we also engage our minds, not only do we become more vital, our mental acuity increases. If then we also add our willingness to engage in life with an open heart, our physical, mental, and emotional well-being exponentially expands. And finally, if we include engaging our soul, the grace of God and Spirit enraptures us with an abundance of love—definitely a giving back to us many times more than what we put into it.

The key practice for the Traveler Within is to seek out venues of engagement that call upon us to “give it all we’ve got,” physically, mentally, emotionally, and spiritually. So why not give life our all? After all, what other venue of investment could possibly enhance our lives more than life itself?

Val Jon Farris is an award-winning author and Huffington Post columnist. He is also a Spiritual Anthropologist and Professor of Ancient Mayan Philosophy. Val Jon hosts expeditions to sacred sites around the world and offers workshops to those interested in exploring both the wonders of the outer world and the mysteries of the inner self. View his YouTube channel here:


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