Yesterday, I wrote about the writing slump I’ve found myself in since being stationary in beautiful North San Diego County. I’ve decided to incorporate a tool to help me get the mojo back… it’s a daily art project called 30 Days of Indie Travel and it’s being hosted by BootsnAll Travel. So here we go! Whee!!
Like most Americans, I haven’t traveled much outside of the United States except for the border countries of Mexico and Canada, and then not extensively past the border areas. But the year I turned 50, I decided that anyone who made it to fifty years of age should take the entire year and celebrate. After all, my generation’s mantra was “Don’t trust anyone over the age of thirty” and here I was two decades beyond that! So I did just that, doing things all year long that I’d wanted to do since I could remember, starting in January (even though my birthday is in June) with a spa facial (fifty years old and never had a facial!? Really?) and ending the year with a trip to Italy.
That trip changed my life. In more ways than one. I took my then-husband, my son, and his Navy buddy with me – three introverted men with this one extroverted woman. It was a trip full of surprises, beauty, adventure, food, and discoveries, along with a few disappointments, and a lot of amazing memories.
We were only in Italy about 2 weeks, but in that time, we saw sooooo many things I had only read about and did things I’d only dreamed of – walking on cobblestone streets over 1000 years old, looking at sculptures by Bernini and Michaelangelo out in the piazzas, discovering gelato, getting lost in Venice. The list goes on. How all this changed me is a little tough to describe; the changes happened at a core level, a place so deep inside me, it seems impossible to put words to those changes, but here goes:
The world is a much smaller place than I used to think it was before I started traveling. As a kid in the classroom, turning a globe round and round, the other side of the world looked so far away. But getting on an airplane years later and landing there on the other side of that globe just a few hours later (okay, a lot of hours later) made me realize just how small our planet really is. Once I digested that piece of information, the idea that I personally owned the planet was not far behind. And if I owned it, I was responsible for its care and maintenance. And if I accepted that I was a human being living on this planet, I could no longer pretend to just exist in a house, with a car, going to my job every day, and not also be looking out for my planet.
As aware as I became of the physical planetness of the big round-ish object I lived on, at the same time, I also realized that people are people everywhere, no matter what language we spoke, what foods we ate, what clothes we wore. We are all people! Wow! Even though I already knew that on an intellectual level, finding it out in person, on the train, in the shops, at the bus stations was a revelation for me! We are all people! People! We smile. We laugh. We dream. We work. We play. We cry. We grieve. People. All the same.
I’d never really had a fear of traveling or being in a country where they didn’t speak my language or didn’t serve food that I recognized but that first trip to Europe allowed me to see how much traveling to another country made my world smaller, not only in size but also in sameness. We all eat, we all breathe, we all drink liquids, we all talk, we all need each other – to work together to make things better for all of us. We’re not alone here, we’re not individuals. We’re all in in this together. And that’s made my acceptance, my tolerance, my ability to see beyond the “things” I might disagree with, much bigger in the sense that I know we’re all connected – to each other, to our planet, to the plants and animals that live here with us, to Mother Earth. Whether it’s a country on the other side of the globe or my next door neighbor, the world is a much smaller place and the people much closer to me because of travel.