The Chinese culture has a proverb that goes, “traveling thousands of miles is better than reading thousands of books,” From our experience, this expression could not be further from the truth. While scary for some, the advantages a person gains in experience from seeing a world outside their own is beyond a value that words can measure. Why, might you wonder? Because experience is more than just a sight. Stepping into the unknown touches all the senses, and one never fully knows the depth of a culture until they have stepped into its proverbial shoes.
Imagine walking the streets of Bangkok, Thailand and smelling the thick scent of food carts everywhere. Or taking a night stroll along the sandy beaches of a Caribbean Island, while the warm salty ocean air teases the nose. Nothing can match the beauty of the sprawling hills set amongst a background of Swiss Alps, with only the sound of free roaming cattle with large cow bells clanking every few seconds. In a word, it is peace. It is experiences that a person should pine to move toward throughout their lives.
Is it possible that many carry into adulthood a small sense of resentment toward the loss of magic in the world? For a child life appears so large and to some great degree, it embodies that element of mystery in almost every facet. The days that we believed in things only to later find out that they never existed shattered some small sense of innocence in us all. We lost a sense of that magic and mystery in the world, only to continue to grow and turn into responsible adults, laden with obligations and little free time. Perhaps for many, the feeling of something bigger than themselves never returns.
Travel is the magic we all pine for. There are cultures in this world that are every bit of opposite to a life many find themselves attached to. There is adventure and mystery where we find ourselves surrounded by a language we don’t understand, customs we aren’t used to, and common courtesies opposite our own. However, we do not steer clear from those experiences, but rather move into them, embrace them, and take home a piece of them, knowing we will bring stories from distant lands that some can only hope to one day see for themselves. Most importantly, we bring home a little less of us each time. That person you left as somehow now has a deeper appreciation for different things. We know this because we see it in those we know, who do travel often.
You see, each time we leave home to experience something new, we build upon our structure. The human condition improves every time one of us learns that our lives are in such contrast to a society only several hours flight away, and it becomes altering to our personalities. We witness the things they do differently, the ways they celebrate life, the ways they suffer, and the uniqueness in how they deliberate over certain topics. Traveling far or near gives us all the one thing that can change our everything in life, and that is context. Context of how similar we are. Context of how different we are. Context to how different you now are, that you have walked a path that many never will and have seen cultures that made you realize that the magic and mystery in life was never lost, but only changed to something that has all the potential to keep us wondering for the rest of our lives. It is in this way that our views and ideas become changed.