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What Travel Does for the Spirit

As I write this I am flying somewhere between the skies of Paris France and Reykjavik Iceland. I am feeling grateful, refreshed and renewed after nearly two weeks of walking the streets in Europe, making new friends, speaking the limited Italian I’ve practiced over the last six months, and observing how people from completely different cultures speak, interact, cook, eat, drive and enjoy life together.

As far back as I can remember, I’ve had a love for travel. Community is so important and when I expand community to mean those from around the world, it provides a sense of camaraderie and connection that transcends all that is familiar and expands my world.

As much as I observe our differences with our comrades around the world I also observe that we have more in common than we may realize. Most of the people I meet want a lot of the same things- to be seen, to be heard, to have their voice matter, and to be loved and have someone to love. To have human rights and stability of some sort in their lives. To live freely and with personal expression. To provide for themselves and family. To work and enjoy their lives.

This realization is what serves to unite us when we pause to contemplate it. We all have more similarities than differences and when we remain curious we can learn about and embrace

both. This hope brings me closer to my wish for humanity. Living in community.

And then of course, there is the beauty- the art and history that exists in other countries that is so rich and vastly different from what is familiar to us in the USA.

To see incredible sights like the Brunelleschi’s Duomo in Florence, the Arc de Triomphe in Paris, and enjoy the wonders of art and history encapsulated into timeless paintings and architecture- is a reminder of how we are also connected by those who came before us who built such works of beauty. People we will never know who have left their mark through strength, sweat, design, art, and ingenuity. People who also endured hardship and had longings that may or may not have come to fruition.

We witnessed the ruins of Pompei, a lost ancient city discovered under heaps of fallen ash from centuries ago when Mt. Vesuvius wreaked havoc in the area and leveled a bustling city of its time. What was life like for those who lived and died there?

As I wandered through Europe taking in all the sights, sounds and smells not customary to my everyday life; the aroma of rosemary walking down the sidewalk in Italy, the sweet smell of crepes and croissants wafting through the alleyways in France, it was not lost on me how sweet the experiences were. They were soothing to my soul.

Different from my ordinary life for sure. I wanted to take in every sound, sight and smell and consciously made an imprint that would be etched in my memory. These places. These people. These amazing experiences.

It all culminates in a renewing of my mind, body and spirit. It is that reminder that as much as I love my everyday community, I do not wish to have it be so small that I forget that community can and does extend to others in faraway places.

Drinking in these experiences reminds me of my smallness. It serves as an additional reminder of the vastness of our planet and our need to take care of it. Travel also reminds me that I don’t want to get so complacent with creature comforts and the routines of my life at home that I don’t think about and wonder about how others are doing. The old Italian man who worked his small shop selling trays and trinkets to curious travelers like me. What is his story?

My creativity and compassion both expand with travel. Travel in particular to foreign countries ignites my passion to keep learning more languages, to cook up more international culinary creations, to be open to more things, and to savor what is good at home, while adopting new ideas and potential habits based on what I see others do in places that are far from my homeland and habits.

As I write I am reminded of the dichotomy of being so tired from early flights as well as being on the go so many days and being awake and more alive savoring the sweetness of the experiences that have exponentially grown my appreciation for both what we have in the US, and what others abroad have unknowingly shown me.

Additionally, I have learned much from my travel companions as well. Being on adventures with people you know, like and love, who are safe people that will both love you and speak truth to you add another dimension to travel. There I have discovered more strengths as well as a few challenges to work on as well. Being on a learning quest to grow and become my best self is part of the adventure so having others along on the journey to “hold up a mirror” adds something meaningful. It is good for my health and for my soul.

The journey of life has many adventures if we intentionally seek them out. Our hope for you is that you will add some exciting adventures to your life in the future and that the journey will be worthwhile wherever it takes you.

Take it all in and savor each moment whether you are nestled comfortably in your home community or venturing out to see the world.

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