Seeing New Things, Going New Places

As the airport doors slid open and the warm Florida sun touched my skin, I looked down and spotted a lizard scurrying across the walkway. I was 11 at the time and I had only seen lizards on TV and in library books.

I remember that moment vividly. It was like culture shock to see and experience something that was completely out of the ordinary. To this day, I still smile when I see those little reptiles.

There’s something special about traveling and experiencing things away from home. It connects us to more than what we know.

I read this article by a sociology professor who left her hometown of Berkley California to spend 5 years in Louisiana. She wanted to learn about the locals and understand their political views, which were completely opposite of what she was used to.

I’m not that interested in politics, but I was drawn to a story that’s toward the end of the article. It’s about a woman named Sharon who sells life insurance and wants to provide her children with a better life than she had.

One thing that was important to Sharon was that she travel with her children and expose them to the “whole world”. She was even fortunate enough to take them out of the country.

To Sharon’s surprise, traveling seemed to be encouraging her 17-year-old son to form opinions of his own that weren’t solely based on the way of life he knew in Louisiana. He turned out to be a supporter of Bernie Sanders and couldn’t stand Donald Trump.

The idea of her son challenging the views of everyone else he knew struck me. It’s as if simply getting exposed to new places and new people is enough to broaden the way we look at our lives.

It’s proof that seeing the wider world holds great value for both us and our children. Some of us are too hardened in our ways to even leave our homes, but I wish we would all just get out and explore. We’re doing ourselves a disservice when we don’t.

You don’t have to go far. Find a new park or a forest preserve or a bookstore. Anything that breaks you from your normal routine and exposes you to something different.

Be more open-hearted. Give yourself the chance to experience somewhere new. You just might like it.

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