One man’s trash is another man’s treasure…
But you would never know it without perspective. Trash is just trash, until you see it through another man’s eyes. I have been fortunate enough to be able to look through many peoples’ eyes, all over the world and the United States. Traveling has been the number one most important activity I’ve engaged in during my young life, and if there’s one thing I know it’s that for the rest of my time here on earth I will make it my mission to continue to study the vast complexities of our existence through the transcendental process of exploration.
It seems to me that we live in a time where gathering vast amounts of shallow knowledge is valued just as much or more as having a deep understanding of a small slice of the world. From my computer I could look at the seven wonders of the world from any angle, at any point in time. Famous buildings or works of arts are all accessible through the internet, as are the histories of the cultures that produced them. But simply acknowledging these structures is not the same as experiencing them. I can tell you that looking down into the Grand Canyon provides a fundamentally different sensation than squinting at a jagged crack through the desert on Google Earth. In the same vein, witnessing first-hand for a day how poverty effects populations elicits a much more powerful empathy than studying trends of globalization for years in school could ever do.
The world is huge and complex, and defies our desire to be perpetually comfortable in the self-centered, half-truths we snuggle into for warmth.
Traveling forces us to confront reality in a way that we can too often escape from in our information and media saturated society. It’s hard to misconstrue narratives about places or cultures when your body and mind are physically immersed within them. It’s a truly amazing experience to watch your rigid expectations and conventional thought patterns dissolve away in spaces where they are not explicitly endorsed. Often times it’s hard to see how narrow minded we can become when we spend large swaths of time surrounded by the same kinds of people. Traveling provides an inoculation against the poisonous tendency of man to appoint himself chief justice in the court of right and wrong.
There is little in this life that is black and white, though our minds are evolved to make distinctions between arbitrarily discreet choices. When we travel, when we explore, we can learn to check our impulse to manipulate information into categories of what we think we know. If variety is the spice of life, traveling is our salt shaker, our pepper grinder, our bottle of sriracha from which pours the beautifully disruptive truth that the world is bigger than our ability to comprehend it.