I want so much for you. I know that you are all privileged in this world and that physically you want for nothing. And yet, I still want for you.
I want you all to travel. Not to see the wonders of the world, or to check 1000 places off of your list of things to do. I want you each to expand your mind and your heart by meeting people and and having experiences that you will never discover in your hometown.
Many of you have begun. You’ve studied and/or lived in countries in which you haven’t known the language or the customs. You’ve done volunteer work far away. You’ve lived with families and on small ships. You’ve wandered, working in schools and orphanages in Africa. You’ve trekked in Nepal and seen the killing fields of Cambodia.
There is still more. Whether you sit by a pool in a five star resort, or study in Ecuador, you will meet people who see life differently and who live in ways that you can scarcely comprehend. If your heart and mind are open, you will be transformed.
My first awakening was many years ago on the beach near a fine hotel in Puerto Vallarta, Mexico, I talked with a woman who was selling roses to the tourists. We talked about our lives and our children. Her little girl clung to her apron as the young mother tried to make enough money to help feed her family.
Since then I have sat on a bench in Vernazza, Italy, and listened to the difficulties of a middle-aged widow whose children had moved away. Living in a small town on the sea below a rocky hillside was hard and lonely for her.
I’ve spent time with an elderly woman in Calabria who wondered why she had outlived her son. She mourned living in her last years with photographs and grief.
Women on chairs and benches at the sides of zócalos, piazzas, dirt roads and paths have shared ideas, feelings and time with me.
I’ve shared walks and dreams with young women. And I’ve had the joy of seeing children read books and paint pictures because I have spent the time and energy to provide them with what they need.
This last month, the history of my own state came to life for me when I spent hours with two disciples of the Bhagwan Shree Rajneesh. They had lived in Pune, India, and in Antelope, Oregon. They shared the “whys” and the “hows” of their time with him.
I have sat at a funeral and danced at a wedding in Mexico. And I’ve celebrated Orthodox Easter in Greece with a family who are now my friends. I’ve joined in religious processions around the world that became meaningful to me because of the faith and passion of the people surrounding me.
These experiences have changed me. I’ve learned not to judge others’ lives by my own standards. Sharing time with the rich and the poor, the educated and the illiterate, has given me gratitude for what I have and made me hungry to learn what I cannot find in books. It has helped me appreciate my differences and to realize that I am the same.
Your travels and experiences, and your choices won’t be the same. Follow your individual paths. You will learn more than I have.
I want that for you. I want you to catch a glimpse of yourself in people whom you may never had noticed had you not taken the time to sit and share and observe. You will be wise to comprehend your fortunate birth and still value different circumstances.
What I really want you to understand is that wealth is not necessarily money and the greatest riches in life are not worldly possessions. This is a lot of wanting, isn’t it?
One thing that probably fascinates me the most is the many, many different ways in which people live their lives. (Maybe this is why I study psychology? :))
I must admit I haven’t travelled so much so far, especially not in the recent years, but this may be because I’ve been on a journey on the inside so much that I needed some stability on the outside at least, not to be totally overwhelmed. Now that I’ve established this little island of inner peace, I feel my spirits looking forward to travelling in the outer world. 🙂
And then there’s this thing about *seeing*: So many people walk through the world without actually seeing it, and the other people within. They may go to foreign places, but their eyes and hearts are closed. That’s the difference between a tourist and a real traveler.
But when you’re a traveler, you come back to your home place, and it looks totally different all of a sudden. You start seeing it with different, new eyes, as a place filled with wonders, and nothing is for granted anymore, as it used to be.
I could go on …
Haha. Perhaps we should just take turns posting after each other. I write after your post…and you after mine.
I would be very sorry if my grandchildren traveled to see the sights and sites and missed the cultures and contacts.
I am of an age when I should be writing letters to my grand children but, I have not been blessed with any. If I had had, I still would not be able to write as well as you do.
I am however a seasoned traveler within and outside India. Extensively in the former and quite a bit in the latter. The experiences that I have had with simple people like weavers, tailors, fisherfolk, salesmen, porters, railway and airline emloyees, taxi drivers etc, stand testimony to what you convey. We can be happy without a great deal of money in our bank accounts. I don’t have much, but I flatter myself that I am happy. AND, we see human beings at their best when they are not very well off!
Yes, Ramana. It doesn’t take a lot to make connections when we travel. We must only be open to those we meet and recognize who they are no matter what they do.
I will say, too, that grandchildren are the biggest blessing in my life. It is a pure beam of love that travels back and forth without necessity of responsibility for outcome. After all, I know that they are born as perfect beings. I often which that I had realized that earlier about my children.
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