I’ve been back for exactly one week now. It’s astonishing how quickly one re acclimates to home. In less than 24 hours things were pretty much back to normal and within a week it was if I had never gone. That is except for the memories and the few things that I brought back with me. But the memories are exactly what I was going for. Travel is an addiction and before the trip was over I was already contemplating my next adventure. It seems that no matter what, trips are never long enough.
What is it about travel that I love so much?
When one immerses themselves into a foreign culture they make themselves vulnerable. The walls that we have erected in our normal lives come down. They must. The act of navigating this new world forces us to interact with people. With limited knowledge of the language we are forced to rethink how we communicate. We must find a common denominator. We often find ourselves at the mercy of strangers, and that’s exactly where the beauty is.
Travel challenges the notion that we are superior. So many times I have come across a situation that my instant reaction was to assume that our way was the best way. On second consideration though, their method seems to work just fine for them. Who am I to assume that our way is the best way? What works for one does not always work for another.
When we travel to new places we can’t help but be amazed at the differences. The language, the etiquette, customs, personal space, writing. The list could go on ad infinitum. What we often miss is how similar we all are. Love, agony, hunger, hope, lust. These are all universal emotions. We work hard so that we and the generations to follow us can have better lives. We worry about that future. We feel love, we suffer loss.
And that is, I think, the most important lesson of travel. That with all these differences, at the core, we are the same.
So many times during my travels I have found myself depending on the kindness of strangers. I was not asking much but I often needed help. What I have found is that overwhelmingly the people of the world are kind and helpful. We often forget this. So often we are told that the world is a scary and dangerous place. Most people chose to hunker down at home, surrounded by the familiar. Living in an echo chamber of fears. Never having their assumptions challenged. That is a shame. Everyone should take the time to leave their comfort zones and be a quest in someone else’s country. Challenge yourself. Remark on the differences and look closely for all of the similarities. I don’t think you’ll be disappointed.