These days not everyone can afford to travel. The majority of us are forced to chose between our dream wedding, owning a home, travelling and having children – or at least sacrificing two of the four.
As much as we are told we can “have it all” very few of us actually can.
Not only is travel unaffordable but we are now apprehensive at the thought. Even though the government has yet to name it a World War there is battle, bloodshed and fear all around in the world. And for a lot of us it’s getting closer and closer to home (if it’s not already there).
So what does travel really teach you? Is it worth it? I recently got back from a five week trip overseas and I can tell you in one word…
Travel renews your compassion and appreciation.
While the news coverage of the every terrorist act eventually leaves our television screens, it doesn’t mean the impact stops being felt. With an overwhelming number of people seeking refuge and terrorists trying to create fear and friction between us, compassion and appreciation is one thing we can’t have enough of.
Since returning home now when I’m out and see someone who is struggling with something I find familiar, easy, normal – I see myself in another country, where the language isn’t my own. Where nothing is easy. I see the rolled eyes and annoyed glances when I struggled to buy something as simple as milk. Or the exasperated huffs as I slowly counted out the strange and unfamiliar currency.
Where I once may have (unconsciously) huffed, annoyed to, at the interruption to my busy day, I now give an understanding smile and attempt to help.
There’s nothing more daunting than not knowing what you’re doing in a country you don’t understand surrounded by words that look made up. It’s at worst dangerous and at best upsetting.
Travel also makes you realise there is no one definition of beauty.
At the Colosseum you might feel as if nothing else you’ll ever see will be as good.
You could find yourself wondering how anything could be more thought provoking, more historic, more beautiful. How could you see something better than history bleeding from the now crumbling ruins?
– And then you see Michelangelo’s paintings covering the ceiling and walls of the Sistine Chapel and words escape you completely (even now).
Or maybe you go somewhere less prominent. Simpler in its beauty. It could be 5am in the deserted streets of Italy while you take a morning walk. It could be a park you stumble across while a little lost in Paris.
That’s when you truly begin to realise the broadness of beauty. “Beautiful” is not one certain place, type of building, piece of artwork or way of looking. I fell in love with a handful of places while I was away. Each in a different way. I marvelled at their stories, their history, their culture and the imperfect beauty behind them all.
Then I came home.
After five non-stop weeks of feeling like I was living on the set of a movie, seeing structures built hundreds of years before Australia was even founded – was depressing. But the first glimpse I got of the beach back in Australia dissolved all those negative feelings.
To me the beach was just as beautiful as the canals in Venice or the Leaning Tower of Pisa.
I don’t think things ever lose their beauty. Our eyes and our hearts simply become accustomed to it. Humans are conditioned to take things for granted. Both places and people.
To be ‘beautiful’ doesn’t mean having to fit a certain box. Beauty is subjective. The only requirement is that you feel it. Places, people and even within yourself.
Beauty is not one place, one thing, one way of life or one person.
As I write this now I’m looking out at the waves. My home (for now) and I still wonder how the view can evoke the same kind of feelings I felt thousands of miles away. Both places completely different. Seemingly incomparable. Yet I do.
I can’t wait to travel again. To see different corners of the world. My heart was most definitely made to travel. But I can see the beauty in my home again – and maybe even a bit in myself to.
And that’s how travel changes you.