As a frequent traveler I lost many things. To be fair, I have gained quite a bit, but that is not the topic for today.
Allow me to frame this up a bit first, if I may.
My childhood was spent in rural America. Not just the regular rural America — I mean RURAL. One stoplight rural. The nearest McDonalds within 20 or so miles rural. One school building for kindergarten through high school rural. Backyard was a cornfield rural. Now you understand.
Do not mistake my meaning to say that this is a bad childhood. In many ways it was idyllic. However, this did provide me with pre-conceived notions about many things. As a result, for the first 18 years of my life I was certain about some things in the world and was secure in those beliefs. I clearly understood that normal meant living the way we lived. Normal was dressing the way we dressed. Normal was talking the way we talked. Normal was worshipping as we worshipped. You get the picture. My view of the world was very narrow, limiting and choked by paradigm.
Through an unlikely series of events, I find myself plucked from this environment (interesting story for another time) and planted in an urban, diverse, lively setting. BOOM. Mind blown.
So let’s get back on track. Given this framework, and a partner that wanted to see the world, travel is put into play.
This seemed to be easy enough. Right? Travel is what people do after working hard. Travel is how we reward ourselves for jobs well done. Yet no one warned me about the dangers of losing things that had served me so well for over twenty years.
So what did I lose, you ask? Quite a bit but here are a few to consider.
I lost my Fear of Living — aka It’s Dangerous
Danger. We seem to live our lives to avoid danger. It’s self-preservation. That’s reasonable. However, when a person perceives danger in every situation that is not exactly as they expect it to be and as they demand that it look— that is not.
Being in a situation in which you are the only light skinned human is not dangerous. You might be a bit uncomfortable, but that is not dangerous. Being in a situation in which you don’t speak the same language as the person next to you is not dangerous. Eating a food that you might have used as fishing bait is not dangerous.
Experience the new. Experience life.
I lost my Inability to Problem Solve — aka It’s Complex — Too much Red Tape
One the common things that is said, especially from friends that do not travel is that travel to foreign countries is complicated. The cost of a passport is mentioned, the hassle of getting your photo, going to a passport agency, and then having forms to complete. Blah. Blah. Blah.
This process seems eerily similar to getting a driver’s license. Yet that is not a problem. Has anyone you known not gotten a driver’s license because of the paperwork?
Outside of this, getting information on travel to nearly any country to which travel is not banned (ahem..Cuba?) is a Google search or phone call away. Countries are eager to have you visit and see their culture, to learn and understand.
Reality is that this is not that high of a hurdle.
I lost My Xenophobia — aka Only America is the Right Way
It’s unnecessary — stay in America. This is by far the most common response when I tell folks about my next adventure.
I get it! For the record, I do agree. America is an amazing land filled with awesome and inspiring sights.
But guess what, America does not have a monopoly on this. Further in the sense of the ‘big picture’ America is not even considered old. America is one of the youngest nations so its history cannot be considered ancient. I am sure that there are Mayans that are giggling because we think our 250–300 year history is ancient as compared to their 10,000 years plus. Or perhaps the Italians with the Roman ruins over 1000 years old.
Gone — but not forgotten
Finally I want to confess that I have lost a lot in my quest to travel and learn about the world.
Unlike that time I lost my wallet, however, I am glad they are lost and would gladly lose them again. In fact, I challenge you. What do you need to lose? If you lose it, what do you gain?