[photo credit: john yurchyk, santa catarina market / barcelona]
Spring break is a few weeks in the past, but its effect on me is still fresh in my mind. Really, I can't think of any other experience in my life that has so obviously effected me as that trip. I suppose the words of H. C. Andersen are common, "To travel is to live", but never had I understood them as I do now.
I always thought traveling was about seeing things I've never seen before (and it is), tasting strange cuisines (and it is), partaking in the local traditions (and it is), and broadening your book of experiences (and it is). But more than any of the previously mentioned, traveling is about meeting and sharing with people...strangers...you meet along the way. Our second night in Lisbon I was sharing a giant beanbag chair on the floor of the our hostel with a girl from Seattle as we talked to other travelers and locals from Montreal, Melbourne, the UK, and Portugal. How funny, all of us sharing our lives with one another in that moment, in an unlikely place such as Lisbon, from places scattered across the globe. How incredible it is that a country boy from Ohio has an opportunity to have his life shaped by so many different cultures? How powerful a thing to improve the world, if every person from Earth could just hang out on over-sized beanbag chairs and relate to one another for a night. Never before had I felt such an overwhelming sense of content, peace, and stillness. Seriously, I wanted to cry with joy.
That's the true power of travel. To find out that the world isn't such a big and scary place; that the things that divide us maybe aren't the canyons that we think they are; that this life is an unbelievable gift that we have to take FULL advantage of. If not, we're wasting everything.
[haha. a night out in bcn with random hostel'rs. represented: holland, spain, italy, turkey, and the us.]
[photo credit: brandon zawicki, pavilion of portugal by alvaro siza / lisbon]
[photo credit: brandon zawicki, city of arts and sciences by calatrava / valencia]
To say that trying to convey what I felt that night is difficult would be an understatement. All I can say is I now think travel may be the most important thing in the world to do, and to do often. South America, Summer 2011 perhaps? The travel bug has officially bitten me.