Are you saddened by what seems to be an endless barrage of harsh world events in the media?
Well, it might be because you feel like a global citizen.
As global citizens, we have a tremendous amount of compassion for others we share the planet with.
Because we’re curious types. We’re travelers.
We identify with other cultures because we’ve experienced how they live. On their turf.
Compassion is my favorite human trait. And I think traveling nurtures that trait. Another thing I’ve noticed; it’s typically people with wanderlust who radiate optimism.
We have a feeling that life holds beauty and opportunity for us. And that we belong to more places than we currently know. Life is beyond just our hometown...our home country.
As travelers, we leave the comfort and security of our kitchen to cook in someone else’s kitchen.
When we travel to a country, like France, we think: Oh, wow, their [insert habit/custom/belief] is so evolved. I think THEY have it right. (Or conversely, I don’t like this [habit/custom/belief] and I’m so grateful I don’t think like that.)
Would we have found the lesson had we stayed home?
We, simply put, form new opinions based on information we gain from others. We're just wired like that.
For those of us with an insatiable curiosity for the world around us, we know that the earth is a very big classroom.
Of course, books can teach us things (I read constantly), but somehow being in a foreign place can crack open our vulnerability. Vulnerability is a pretty good way to learn lessons that might get skipped otherwise.
Travel = learning.
Learning = becoming even more curious.
Becoming curious = compassion.
Compassion = a better place to live in.
I don’t know what motivated me to leave my small town in the dust with my backpack at 18 years old. My first time on the road, I felt as though I could do anything. It was a heady sense of freedom. I imagine you’ve tasted it before. I felt free with 400 bucks, a greyhound ticket to San Diego, (cheapest way to get to the Mexican border from Vancouver) a pair of Birkenstocks, two tins of baked beans and one too many tie-dye dresses. I was OUTTA HERE. (Although I learned my first hard travel lesson: a tin of beans is useless if you forget the can opener.)
Travel was my gateway to feeling free. It was my gateway drug to learning that choosing optimism over fear works in your favor (99% of the time. And the other 1% of the time it’s gonna suck really hard). The stuff I learned through my travels through Mexico, Europe, Canada, the U.S., Southeast Asia and Australia made me the person I am today. Traveling has shaped my life in a way that becoming a mom has. (Interestingly, they call forth very similar elements: compassion and patience.)
With these feeling present, I decided to write and allow the words to flow freely. However, I almost didn't share this. I mean, who needs dime-store philosophizing when we see heart aching disparity. Extremities of rich/poor, safety/danger, war/peace, love/hate are all heaped on a big messy plate, no matter where we live. And we're forced to pick through and eat the bits that look good. It's enough to turn our stomach.
(Oh, and we don’t need to look on the other side of the world for problems: people in our own neighborhoods can’t even get along.)
I don’t pretend to be clever, nor is this political commentary. I just know that it’s impossible not to feel affected. Compassionate people are like that.
So in these times of intense change, when the uncertainty feels even more present than ever, this message is for you.
Whatever happens, don’t forget about your special capacity for wonder and curiosity. And hold onto your optimism like a life raft...even when it feels frivolous.
The world still needs people who believe better times are ahead.
Let all the goodness out there (there's still a ton) fuel the life you want to create. And nurture THAT. Don't delay that important work. And of course, keep your loved ones close. Call them or kiss them and tell them that they matter.
BIANCA GIGNAC owns a heart centered travel company offering trips to Italy for women and creative workshops for entrepreneurs. She divides her time between Canada and Italy and is publishing a guidebook for anyone dreaming about a trip to Italy. Follow her here: www.italianfix.com