What does it mean to live well?

This banner hung outside of our room at the Rupa Wasi Lodge in Machu Picchu Pueblo in May 2005. It says:

"In the end what matters most is
How well did you live
How well did you love
How well did you let go."

I often wonder what it is deep down that gives me such a strong urge to travel. I'm often not content with a weekend drive in the mountains. I feel compelled to visit far-away places. I want to immerse myself in another environment, another culture, another life for weeks at a time. When I'm not traveling, I scheme about traveling. Where will I go next? When will I go next? How can I spend more time there?

I never feel more alive than I do when I travel to far away places. I suppose that is at the heart of my desire - when I travel, I am aware of everything around me. I am fully awake to life. The more new, different, or strange my surroundings, the more heightened my awareness. In my mind, this is what it means to live fully - to be fully present to each moment. I love the suprizes that pop up - this banner, for example, which gets to the heart of everything.

But despite the relentless urge to explore exotic places, I always reach a point in my travels when I want to come home. A point when I'm tired and long for nothing more than to crawl into my own bed and wake in familiar surroundings. There is always a fine line between the desire for new, different, and daring, and the desire for comfort and familiarity. (Although, after a long trip, the familiar often feels strange - I always wake at some point during my first night home in utter confusion - for a brief moment, I have no idea where I am, and nothing looks familiar).

But how can I be more awake to life in the comfort and familiarity of my own home? I can't always be galavanting across the globe in search of adventure - and, in truth, I really don't want to be. Maybe I can find a balance in seeking out adventure in my own backyard.