Before I started traveling, I was working, trying to go to college, and hanging out with friends. In my free time I did photography or music or writing- but there was always something missing. I felt as if I was living with no purpose, working so hard but getting nowhere. I used to sit in the back of a taxi on my way to the metro for work almost every day, completely miserable- doing the same thing over and over. Yesterday I was sitting in the back of a taxi. I was passing by a park with a fountain shimmering under the sunlight in Bangkok, Thailand. Sitting in the exact same seat, yet in a whole other world. I thought about it, how my life used to be, and how it is now. Not only where I am (a place I always dreamed of going), but who I am. I feel as though I am no longer just doing things to survive, I have a purpose of life. I am not just living in the world, but I am a moving part of it.
When I was on a bus on my way to Siem Reap, Cambodia, passing through the country, I watched the farmers, the animals, the children, and the beauty of a simple authentic human life. I was looking at the world with truly open eyes, and I felt it looking back at me. I felt my place in the world being recognized and I realized that we are all a part of it-not just in it. We can do anything.
When I lived back home I always had this dream of traveling. I would watch documentaries, read articles, and research volunteer opportunities- but it all seemed so far away and even impossible for someone like me. Not only because of money, but I felt so stuck where I was. I felt as if living my dream wasn’t possible.
When we watch the news in America, or from anywhere in the world, and see another place on the screen, it seems like it has nothing to do with us. It’s hard to connect with a tv, and to truly understand what is happening in these places. That’s because the media, politicians, and corporations control what they want you to know or see. You will never genuinely understand these places until you go. Go. Go see them for yourself. Meet these people, experience their circumstances, their history, their culture, and their beauty. Traveling changes you in ways that nothing else can. Until you see the world, you won’t understand it or what it truly means to be human. To see people struggling through poverty, or a suppressive government, or even the opposite, struggling to stay human through a capitalist society with too much stuff.
Traveling has emptied out what I thought I knew about myself and the world, and filled me back up with connection, insight, passion, and curiosity. It has shown me that we all have a place in this world. When I used to think about traveling I would always say I wish or I hope or one day. Now when I hear about an interesting place or something I’d like to do, I say oh great, I’ll add that to my list.