I was riding on a train sitting next to my oldest brother’s youngest son, and we were traveling from Tokyo to Kyoto. He had his headphones on and was absorbed in his music, or that was my impression. After about forty-five minutes he took off the earphone nearest to me and said, “Have you noticed how different their houses and rooftops are from ours? I wonder why?” It was in that moment I knew the power of travel.
My nephew was barely eighteen and had never been outside of the United States. Not only was this his first trip abroad, it was to Japan. A culture so foreign to this young man, our hope was that the differences would make an impression. After his comment I knew that travel had done it’s job. Once you step outside your own known universe everything else is an education, an adventure and discovery all rolled into one. I knew his life and thought processes would never be the same.
Travel, whether it is across the globe or across town, has the power to change us for the better. We become more aware, more curious and more tolerant of people who did not grow up the same way that we did. Suddenly we are living through and experiencing places, people, food, colors and culture that we may have seen on an electronic screen or read about…yet to BE in it is like going from black and white to color. We will never be the same, that is if we really travel and do not simply import our ways into everywhere we go.
If we learn nothing else from travel it is that the rest of the world lives differently than we do. They are no longer wrong, or crude, backward or simple. Their lives for a brief time become our lives and those experiences change us forever. Once we are back home, in our habits, gadgets and gizmos we have the opportunity to pick up where we left off. If we learned wisely we will understand that we are now altered and no longer perfectly fit into that same old world. Tiny things have been improved – our attitude, our thoughts, our outlook and our actions are all different. We are more tolerant, more kind, and more thankful. All that from going a different direction out our own front door. Maybe you need to plan a trip – across the world or across town – and see how your world will improve.