Wherever I went
“I had always believed that I left a bit of me wherever I went. I also believed that I took a bit of every place with me…And the only possible explanation I could find for that feeling was that a spirit existed in many of the places I visited, and a spirit existed in me and the two had somehow met in the course of my travels.”
― Bruce Feiler
I don’t know anyone who enjoys staying home more than I do, and the older I get, the more I like it. But I also was born to travel, to long for discovery of places and people I have never known. While these two impulses might seem contradictory, they need not be.
I connect with what Feiler says in this quote, because I agree that we leave a bit of ourselves behind wherever we go. The conversations we have with locals; the things we photograph, buy or contemplate; the very steps we take; all leave visible or invisible traces. That’s why I try to be aware of my conduct in the cultures I visit, and careful to treat the land and its people with respect, whether it’s a country thousands of miles away or a town just down the road.
At the same time, each place we visit leaves us changed in some way, because our senses are taking in impressions every waking hour. We may not consciously remember being affected by a place (though often we will), but our experiences make up a large part of who we are. Again, it calls for awareness. I try to avoid experiences that will feed my fears, prejudices and negativity. It isn’t always possible, of course, but even when I find myself in less than ideal circumstances, there is almost always something to appreciate, if I look for it hard enough.
Perhaps it’s possible to love both home and travel because most of us long to feel at home wherever we go, and to see home with the fresh eyes of a traveler. When we are on the road, let’s remember to take a bit of our best selves with us, to share freely in our travels. When we do, we usually will discover generously offered gifts to bring home with us, bright gems of memory that will connect us to fellow humans through a spirit of shared understanding.
When you travel, what do you leave behind? What do you bring back home with you?
One year ago today: