“Travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry, and narrow-mindedness, and many of our people need it sorely on these accounts. Broad, wholesome, charitable views of men and things cannot be acquired by vegetating in one little corner of the earth all one’s lifetime.” ~Mark Twain
I’m still a little sad it’s over. A month ago I landed back in The States from my 30 day trek through parts of Japan, Korea, and Hong Kong. I’m back in New York now: back to the old rat race.
I wouldn’t necessarily call it culture shock, but whenever you come back from a long trip there’s going to be little realizations about where you call home – similar to living in New York City and then going back to Maine, or on a smaller scale, moving away for college, and coming back home. There’s a verbose linguist named Bruno della Chiesa who has a good saying, “A fish doesn’t know what water is.” Hence, when you leave the fishbowl, your world, your perspective, opens up.
The bulk of my time was spent in Japan, so a majority of those realizations and comparisons that pop up in my head stem from that experience, but of course also to a certain extent Korea and Hong Kong. I won’t go into a long list, but there’s a lot we could do better at here, from infrastructure projects, to public education, societal politeness, etc…
And that’s not to paint New York or America in a bad light. Returning from such a trip also broadens one’s perspectives on what they appreciate about their home. Our country certainly enjoys greater liberty. In New York, the diversity, depth, and concentration of culture is a special conglomeration and chaos that’s hard to find anywhere else Earth. The definition of beauty here is broader than anywhere else because of it. There is more at your fingertips here than anywhere else because of it: food, art, experiences, people, you name it.
I managed to unplug from American politics while traveling. Unfortunately political scandal and criminal justice failures in Trumpistan, U.S.A. have been running at full-tilt since I’ve gotten back, and it’s exhausting. To avoid a long political diatribe, I’ll repeat the Mark Twain quote I led off with, “Travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry, and narrow-mindedness, and many of our people need it sorely on these accounts. Broad, wholesome, charitable views of men and things cannot be acquired by vegetating in one little corner of the earth all one’s lifetime.”
To me that quote embodies a large reason why I travel, but preceding even that is simply curiosity. What’s it like in a another part of the world? How do they live there, and perceive their world? There’s a fatality in closed-mindedness. An anti-intellectualism leading to rugged individualism has spread across a large swath of America and is doing real damage to the world we live in. Travel, can be part of the antidote. I’m hoping my generation, as it grows in this globalizing world, can do better.
I’ll leave it there. I’ve still got hundreds of photos to sort through, and a healthy portion of my brain filled with excellent memories. I’m feeling creatively rejuvenated now that I’ve gotten that out of my system too. There’s just one itch I need to scratch, and it’s, “When do I go back?”