As we boarded our United Airlines flight on an Embraer 135 from DC back to Nashville I was reading through Shauna Niequist’s book, Bittersweet.
The Embraer 135 is a small jet and we were crammed in our seats like a group of college kids going on spring break in a Honda Civic. It was uncomfortable to do anything but sit with your arms crossed and look straight ahead. However, my mood changed when I began reading the chapter titled, Sea Dreaming. In this chapter she writes about traveling. Obviously it hit home with me. I was trying to compartmentalize unforgettable experiences along with the amazing time of relaxation we had in Jamaica. As I was doing that while sitting in my seat appearing to wear a straight jacket, only able to move my arms like a Tyrannosaurus rex, I read this:
That’s why travel is so important, among other reasons: to get far enough away from our everyday lives to see those lives with new clarity. When you’re literally on the other side of the world, when you’re under the silent sea, watching a bright, silent world of fish and coral, when you’re staring up at a sky so bright and dense with stars it makes you gasp, it’s in those moments that you begin to see the fullness of your life, the possibility that still prevails, that always prevails.”
As I read it the words lifted off the page and I felt like she was speaking directly to me. I read the chapter over and over again and underlined a different sentence each time I read.
She continued to say,
You certainly don’t have to be on the other side of the world, but you do have to get out of those same four walls you’re always staring at. Drive to the city, or to the country, or to a lake whose shores are totally unfamiliar to you. Listen for the new rhythms and sounds, and watch your life refract and shift against a new backdrop. You’ll see things you didn’t know were there, and recognize selves long hidden.”
I have thought about this again and again since I have been back. I believe she is 100% correct. There is something about being in unfamiliar areas and situations which causes a shift. It causes you to calibrate your life and focus in on what matters.
I want to add many more stamps to my passport. I want to be well traveled. I want the experiences but I also want to remind myself who I am. I want to go somewhere exotic and eat something weird. I want to surprise myself. You don’t have to travel to the far parts of the world to do that. You can. But you can also go somewhere new three miles down the road. The more you experience the more you understand. There are so many parts of God’s creation I haven’t seen.
I want to travel anywhere and everywhere.