When I was thirteen years old, a substitute teacher came into my class, dressed in second-hand skirts and foreign scarfs wrapped around her bald head. Rather than covering the curriculum, she spent the day showing us pictures from Thailand, Japan, Egypt – any and every country where she had visited. I listened to her enraptured. When the bell rang, I followed my peers to the front of the room, but I stopped on my way and I mentioned to the substitute that I had enjoyed her presentation, and that I would love to travel the world when I grew up. She told me that I could, and that the trick was being smart about where I organized my money.
It has been nine years since I met her. In that time, the only new place I have travelled to is Florida. And I’m not complaining about that – I love Florida, Florida is lovely. But Florida is just one place, and there is still so much out there.
The thing about the world is that it is just so vast. There are millions of people in it, all of them different. All of them raised into different schools of thought. All of them coming from different backgrounds, influenced by different histories. We tend to think that our world is the world, but there is so much more to it than that. There are people out there who have never even heard of the sorts of things that we take for granted as regular, everyday, mundane experiences.
I want to go everywhere. I want to go to New York. I want to go to the United Kingdom, to Germany, to Italy, to Greece, to Japan. I want to go somewhere where I don’t yet know the name of, but that I will fall in love with the moment I go there because it will just be so different and so incredibly massive. It will be another world, another culture, filled with another people and the capability to teach me so much. And I hope that when I go there, I will be willing to keep an open mind. I hope that I will allow myself to learn everything that they have to teach.
And I know that, right now, I am limited. I am a child – a cocky one, maybe, one who thinks that I understand this playpen and the way it works, but the moment you open it up, I will be awed by the amount that exists outside of it. I will continue to learn and grow and develop. I will revel in the art and the history that I am clueless to right now. I will sit in cafes and watch faces pass me by that tell stories that I could have never imagined. I will get lost and I will be scared and I will be overwhelmed, and then I’ll find the path again and continue right on in this journey. I will end this life better and more experienced than I began it.
And I need to make sure that that happens. If I don’t, if I just remain where I am all my life, then I am sequestering myself to this tiny little bubble forever. I am experiencing one experience. I am thinking with one mind. I am learning one lesson. And there is just too much out there for me to allow that to happen.