Trust30 Day 5: On Travel

Not everyone wants to travel the world, but most people can identify at least one place in the world they’d like to visit before they die. Where is that place for you, and what will you do to make sure you get there?

Places in the world are like books, too many to get to in one life time.

Travel, if done well, expands minds, vaporizes bigotry and nurtures tolerance. Travel, if done poorly, curbs growth, validates bigotry and provides rationalization for intolerance.

Experience suggests that people who never travel retain limited outlooks for all their lives. Of people who stay in one place except to go shopping we might justifiably say, some if not all, go through life with small minds.

Experience also suggests some people who travel much and frequently embrace the nurturing effects of variety find themselves eventually wanting more. Travel turns into a distraction from details. We consume a quick look, take a few photographs and move on. Every destination inspires planning for the next destination. We inhale the aroma of a place but in snapshot time, outside changing seasons and cultural momentum.

And travel distracts us from exploring the wonders surrounding home.

We live in a generalized age. Media attempts to homogenize culture with sound bites, foregoing local detail; pushing homogenized values with trivial stories that do not affect the daily lives of most readers/viewers. Global corporations infect regional diversity with viral, international sameness of product, style, color and sound. Travel becomes less exploration and more realization of widespread homogeny; of cultural loss.

Surrounding home, seeds of local and regional expression lie dormant. Climate, local economy and history teem with opportunity for regional style that satisfies uniquely local attitudes but anti-diversity media aimed at an internationally, lowest common denominator audience sucks our attention away. We fail to see, much less plant and nurture our differences. Individuality suffers. Our locality suffers. Our culture suffers.

The only place left to go, for me, is my back yard; to celebrate delightful details, to count blades of tufted grasses, gaze at prairie flowers, listen to unique combinations of birdsong and observe cycling seasons that happen this way only in this place, only in this year.

I do not mean to discourage travel. Travel early and travel often. Travel now before the strip mall that replaced your main street shows up in the places you want so much to visit. Travel and imbibe what remains of cultures after media erosion but do not forget to look up your street and into your back yard. Do not forget to nurture the things that make you and your neighbors unique.

Do not forget home.

  • Dawn Stein

    Too funny that you publish this today. Yesterday I spent the afternoon celebrating the dandelion puffball. You know the thing that appears after the pretty yellow flower disappears. I picked them and sprayed them with color. Too often we look elsewhere for diversion when it is right here under our noses.

    • Chrome

      I saw. It was great. And, exactly.

  • Celia

    This had me thinking about travel & home on my walk today, I strive for balance between both.

    Also, a little ping, remembered that on day 4 you wrote about a teacher who had not traveled much in distance.

    • Chrome

      Oh dear. Am I repeating myself now?

      • Celia

        I like to think that you’re weaving it together.

        • Chrome

          Yes. Of course. Thank you.

  • jsolberg

    For some unknowable reason, (and this will be ‘that standard of mine’ in all my comments here), I feel, after a careful reading of your eminently defensible appeal to live locally, …I feel a decided urge to visit every MacDonald’s on the Planet. Surely, the data I’ll compile on the parking lots of Uganda, the bathrooms of BanglaDesh, the pecking order in Peking will be up-scalable to where I can write in my Abstract that Locality is triumphant, uber alles, and sans the need to even be stressed… to the Enlightened. I’ve seen a dozen or so acquaintances visit Israel, and always thrill to the few who seem to be asking the question “What is it really like to wake up here, to smell the roses, the cactuses, and the spent gunpowder?”
    Hmm.. this from a guy who recently spent 2 days in Prague mainly tasting the flavour of the unfamiliar weeds in an abandoned lot near the hotel.I may be, to my credit, on Level 6 of your well-described formula for travel here?

  • Chrome

    When you find yourself sitting in the Drake hotel discussing with the chambermaid the effect of breaking daylight on horsetail grass you decided not to mow this year because in the wind it generates more information than the nightly news, and you share with her, as she turns down the bed, your burning desire to catalog the daily flavor changes of Basswood leaves from slippery bud to autumn paper; when you wake to the sound of Hawaiian surf and your first thought, after cappuccino, turns to pixies in the garden or red-tailed raptors softly keeping squirrel populations under control; when tourists treat you like the rube you are and you think “But Buddy, you forget, you can only afford to be here four weeks a year.” then locality begins to solidify.

    • jsolberg

      Your reply, with the ‘when you find yourself…’ kinda autoplays Dylan’s” Queen Jane”, at least on my internal speakers. (When you’re lost in the rain in Juarez / and it’s Easter-time too…”)
      Actually it was the Kafka Hostel and Entomological museum I stayed in this time. As to the chambermaid, I don’t do women with mustaches, sadly.
      On a rare dead-serious note, yes, I believe my Inner Weed-eater Child those couple days was un-intentionally close to what I perceive you are driving toward here, and of course that maketh me pretty goddamn proud of my self, ha.

      • jsolberg

        Oof, looks like I ‘married’ Queen Jane to Tom Thumb. Two songs, one in each ear, hey, it could happen to anyone… with early-onset whatever. The point, luckily, remains valid.

  • Terry

    When I first read this, it made me realize that the extensive travel that I love may be detracting from the simple joy of local exploration. I love how travel expands my mind. At the same time, I know that I could benefit from a different experience of savoring what is close at hand. In re-reading this, I realize that contemplating the balance is something that I can do again and again over time. Thanks for opening my mind to exploring all of the possibilities, both afar and at home!

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