Meet the best teacher you’ll ever find… Travel.
Travel is the one school we happily give all our money away to and want to return to, again and again.
Travelling is like taking the fun, exhilarating adventure class that teaches us more about life skills and the world we live in, rather than the basic structures of math, science and theories that are likely to be outdated as quickly as our last over priced textbook. Sure books are good for learning. They provide copious amounts of knowledge and can often be the catalyst to further exploration, but experience… there is no better teacher than experience to integrate lessons.
Travel is about gaining new perspective, taking yourself our of your comfort zone and allowing yourself to learn as you go. When you travel, life becomes a little more spontaneous, you learn to live in the present moment as you soak up your new surroundings. You learn to navigate culture, bus systems, foods and customs. You develop and hone your intuitive skills because you can’t always depend on language. You develop patience, because things don’t always go as planned. You develop confidence, because you learn to respond to different scenarios and survive!!
There are deep lessons I have discovered through travel. Beliefs and thoughts are often contained and re-confirmed as truths within the cultures and communities where we reside. That is until we see otherwise. Travel has this capacity to open doors that bridge beliefs that show us that what is “true” in one place is not necessarily true in another. So what then is true? Simply that which we choose to collectively believe and agree upon? But this too can change over time.
Apartheid & slavery was legal at one time and written into law. Now we largely agree that our ancestors were wrong in their beliefs and also quite rude! Even the words poverty & richness is relative to the places one travels and the beliefs one carries with them.
For myself, having grown up in Africa, I was told that I was surrounded by poverty. When I lived in Canada I was told that I was among the rich. The truth I experienced through travel showed me a deep contradiction in these words. Those living in poverty were rich in a way I could not find in Canada. And those in the Canada were deeply afflicted with some morose that I did not understand when life clearly seemed to be to their advantage. But according to what beliefs?
The key, I’m coming to discover, is understanding that beliefs and thoughts are not bound to us so long as our spirit is free. And travel has shown me this freedom.
When we are met by diversity we learn to find commonality. Despite the differences, we learn to connect. We find friendship in the most unlikely of circumstances and we learn through these experiences that there are generous and compassionate people everywhere. We gain understanding and begin to respect the differences even if we don’t completely understand them. And this adds to the overall quality of our lives because our perspective widens and our understanding embraces the whole. And this is what we bring home with us. We teach those around us what we’ve discovered and our experiences and joy develops curiosity in others.
Have you ever gone on a trip and upon returning home realized that everything has changed? Sure your family and friends are the same, your house, your neighborhood, your job, it’s all the same but for some reason it feels different. What you used to accept as normal, no longer satisfies you. You begin questioning your own culture, your beliefs, your lifestyle, not to mention everyone else’s. You become frustrated with the way things were and you dread going back to the old way of things. It would be like going back to high school when you’ve finished your Bachelors degree.
Welcome to post travel realization. You’ve just received a diploma in travel and your outlook and perspective have graduated to the next level. Congratulations!
Now what do you do? How do you integrate what you’ve learned? The same way we would use the information we learned in school for our grown up jobs, after we travel we have to figure out how to incorporate what we’ve experienced into our every day lives. It takes time and patience, but the lessons are well worth the discomfort. You are the bridge between communities, you are the student of global peace and harmony.
So, I ask. Are you done learning? Or, are you ready to plan your next trip…