“You know, traveling with people isn’t all that great,” a Caucasian male hiker in his 30’s said to his Asian female companion of about the same age. I was located about a few feet behind them sitting and meditating on top of a big rock.
“You have to be open to adventure…Some people take their world with them wherever they go.” The man continued with his story. “If you go to new places, you embrace what is there. You try new things, else what is the point of traveling?”
We were all at the top of the Mission Peak Trail Head. After two hours of hiking, I was enjoying the view before me, but I overheard the conversation that the couples were having. Eagerly and attentively, I listened in on their conversation.
“When most people travel, they are nothing more than tourists. They take pictures and see new things, but they don’t really experience anything new. They don’t give themselves to the situation totally.” The man complained. “I don’t know why people bother with traveling if they are not open to new experiences…”
I listened to him in the background and couldn’t help agreeing with what he said. I mean what is the point of going to new places without experiencing the culture, and the very way of life that a new surrounding brings?
So many people travel around the world bringing along their comforts and conveniences. If you only do things that you are comfortable with, you will only limit your experience of life. You will not enhance it. Instead, you will only regurgitate the same experience again and again in different situations. There is nothing wrong with this. There is nothing wrong with experiencing the same thing over and over again. It is just limiting, that is all.
A Whole New World
The best part of traveling is that you look at life anew. Because places you go to are new, you have never seen them before. You have never experienced the culture and surrounding environment. This makes it easy for you to look at everything with a sense of wonderment.
That is why I love traveling. Because otherwise, I would never experience certain things in my life. When I took the chance to travel to Algonquin, Illinois to be a DirecTV satellite technician, I never dreamed of driving an old Ford pickup truck 800 miles in a snowstorm. I never dreamed of living in a trailer for an entire month of winter. Never dreamed of driving into a ditch in a winter storm and having the help of a stranger pull out my truck with his. Never dreamed of ascending 30 plus feet on a lopsided ladder, secured between my truck and the sidewalk, to a snow-covered roof. Nor could I imagine interacting with people of all kinds and entering homes I would otherwise never go into.
There is so much adventure and story from that time period, but my life is just like that. An abundance of adventure and stories simply because I am willing to say yes to anything that comes my way.
When you travel, a whole new world of possibilities arises. You just have to be courageous enough to embrace the new things that happen along the way. And the thing is, you won’t know what will happen. If you are one type of person who likes stability, security, and schedule, then traveling can freak you out in many ways.
You want things to be this way or that way. No, that is not how life works. Just learn to become a flexible mind. You can’t do life without a certain level of playfulness because life will never be 100% the way you want. So whatever happens, you improvise. You make the most of it because life is always your making.
If you travel, you will run into situations that you have never experienced before. In many ways, traveling is a self-reflective experience. You learn how you react and interact with people depending on the situations. Likewise, it can also show you where you can improve in life.
For example, I used to think that I’m special. I see things very differently from other people because I am reflective and aware. I have very deep thoughts and experiences. Most people have sheep-like mentality. They all think alike and do the same nonsense. These were some of the conclusions I made about people.
I am wrong because I don’t know what others have perceived. Because everyone’s experience of life is unique. We are all at a different level of experience and understanding. And that is the wonder of life. That wherever you go, you have people with all kinds of neat experiences and backgrounds. Everyone is wonderful in their own ways. I just don’t know because I never interacted with them. I never took the chance to get to know them.
Immerse and Involve Yourself
We have all heard the saying before. If you want to experience something beyond yourself, then you must put yourself in someone else’s shoes. If we want to know someone or if we want to know life from a different perspective, this is what we do. The whole process of traveling and immersion is that you put yourself aside.
Give up your conclusions about people and their way of life. Simply live like them and see for yourself. You will see that everyone is doing their best, one way or another. That you are not superior to anyone. That you are just like everyone else. It took me a while to understand that I am not special. I am not the only one who is going through problems. Also, I am not the only one who is experiencing life so beautifully. There is cohesion in our experiences despite the differences.
When I traveled and got involved with people, I learned that there are no boring people in the world. There is not a single person like the other. It doesn’t matter what adventures they went through or their level of experience, I am always surprised when I truly get to know them.
I don’t feel superior to any Latino workers that I worked with before in the kitchen. They are all super hard workers. Knowing how they struggle physically and yet striving immensely made me understand the importance of humility. I involved myself totally in the same activities that they do. I washed dirty dishes for days and ended up with dishpan hands like them. I deal with nasty food debris and trash in such ways that by the end of the day, I am covered with oily grease. And that experience opened me up to see life through a different lens.
I became a math teacher and gained the perspective of my teachers when I was a student. I felt the dilemma of whether I should prioritize teaching my students to pass examinations or teaching them to love learning. I felt the urge and desire to elevate all my students to a higher level of understanding and learning. Yet, I struggled to cope with the reality that some students will always struggle. And there’s only so much that I can do to help every single one of them. This was another experience and another adventure.
Adventure isn’t just about traveling. It is being open to whatever that is around you. It is putting yourself aside so that you allow the fullness of life to open up in your experience. So that you don’t distinguish what is a desirable experience or an undesirable experience.
The essence of adventure is that you are simply willing to see and experience all that is here. You involve yourself totally into what you do, regardless of what you think about it. And the best thing about life is that anything can be an adventure if you give yourself to the process. Traveling is an adventure. Relationships are an adventure. Work is an adventure. Life is an adventure.
In this life there’s nothing that I want more than to experience it totally. I don’t want to be just a bundle of thoughts and emotions, prejudices, ideologies, and others. I want to know life through every angle, so I travel and seek adventure wherever I go and whatever I do.
With countless things to experience in life, there will be many things that I will never get to experience. Likewise, there will be billions of people who are absolutely amazing that I will never get to meet. But that is the wonder of life. That in the limitless opportunities that are here, I can still enjoy the limited things that I do immensely.
I am not freaked out by the infinite possibilities. I am in awe because even though I experience only so little of what the world has to offer, I am still overwhelmed by the beauty of my experience.
I know for sure that heaven and hell are not geographical locations that people go to. They are different dimensions of experience that we generate within. I created a lot of nonsense in my journey and adventure through life, but even more so, I created amazing experiences within me.
Though there are yearnings in me all the time, I am so happy to live such an amazing life. Even if I have to die tomorrow, I can 100% say that my life is complete in every way. My childhood was amazing. Adolescent years were full of mischief and emotional swings, but they were beautiful in another way. Adulthood years are full of adventure, learning, and understanding. I loved these years of adventure no matter what random things I did. Though I didn’t make much money, that did not matter. I lived with an open heart.
Yes, I still get attached to situations and people. I get depressed when changes happen. But I know that that’s how life works. Life is very brief. Because I know this, I appreciate things even more. In every way, I am a nomad. I move on, move on, and move on.
I move on because change is the basis of life. Your body changes. You were never born like this, and your body will not stay like this. Your mind changes. With new information and impressions, your thoughts will change, and you will change.
In many ways, adventure is just the consequence of change. If you fully allow change to happen, then you can enjoy it. If you fully immerse yourself in the situation presented, whatever you do, you can enjoy it.
As my favorite teacher, Ms. Frizzle from the magic school bus, always say: Take chances, make mistakes, and get messy.
If you approach life with this kind of enthusiasm and willingness, then how can any situation not be an adventure for you? You will be just like me, open to any adventure that comes your way.