Can you access the benefits of travel without leaving home?
I love travel. I think I’ve got the bug.
It is interesting how often travel comes up when I peek over the shoulder of my student’s goal-setting exercises.
After being able to look after your loved ones, it’d have to come close to the most common desire that people have.
I can see the appeal. Travel is exciting. It’s stimulating. It expands your mind, (and therefore ultimately makes you a better investor!)
And aside from the occasional bout of gastro, what’s not to like?
There’s a quote I like that says, “When you learn another language, you learn another soul.” I think it’s the same story when you step into another culture.
It’s not just about whether they use chopsticks rather than knives and forks. It’s that they see the world in a totally different way.
Cultures are a paradigm for being in the world. They have different assumptions about the way humans should relate to each other. Different understandings of our place in the world. Different ideas of what makes for a good life.
I just find it fascinating.
And the main reason I find it fascinating is that suddenly I can see how much of my own understanding of the world just reflects my own particular cultural paradigm.
As Aussies, we think in a particular way. We relate in a particular way. It’s not until you step into another culture that you realise that these things are not ‘normal’ a such, they’re just Australian.
When you tune into that reality, you can end up feeling a little drunk. Suddenly everything you thought was fixed in your life, becomes unfixed. It’s up for negotiation. It can be hard to find your feet in this.
For some people, it’s too much. They retreat back to where everyone thinks and acts like them – where the ground beneath their feet is solid again.
This is a shame. As much as possible, we want to keep our minds subtle, child-like. We want to stay in that receptive space where we not mapping our prejudices and ideas about how the world is and should be onto our experience. We want to be open, curious, and present to what actually ‘is’.
There’s a dance with this. And particularly as you become more successful. When a paradigm serves you well, it takes root. It becomes your go-to paradigm.
After a while, you stop thinking it’s a paradigm at all. You stop thinking that it is a framework for navigating reality and start thinking that it is actually reality itself.
And that’s why travel is so awesome. There’s nothing like being surrounded by 50 million people inhabiting a totally different paradigm to shock you out of your arrogance.
I love it.
Of course, the challenge is how we maintain that open and receptive mind when we’re at home. And how we do it when we just have to get stuff done – when we don’t have the luxury to wander wide-eyed through foreign city streets, trying to figure out what the street food vendors are actually selling.
“What is it? You’re waving your hands… Some sort of fish? Then why is it furry?”
And look, I don’t think it’s actually practical. As I said, our paradigms are what help us navigate an infinitely complex reality. We’re lost without them, and you can’t be throwing them up for negotiation every hour of every day.
But it is important to step out of your paradigm and get some self-reflection on a regular basis.
As you go, you’ll be able to build regular international travel into your life. (Having a hubby who says, ‘Put the tools down Dymphna, time for a break’ is also useful!)
But it doesn’t have to come through travel. There are 100s of different cultures existing right at your doorstep.
If you wanted to, you could very easily find people who inhabit a very different reality to you and spend time with them.
Heck, set up a fake facebook account and sign up to all the sorts of things you’d never sign up for.
Join an anarcho-punk band’s fan page and get involved in the forum. (To the anarcho-punk’s who read my blog, join the Country Women’s Association.)
You get the idea.
More than ever, the media is coddling us in our views, reinforcing our beliefs and paradigms with voices who already agree with us.
Getting all of your news from one source is the equivalent of never setting foot outside your village.
Nothing really wrong with it, but there’s an opportunity for growth that’s missed.
So take time to be a traveller in your own city. An adventurer in your own culture. A child in your own life.
Be hungry for things that flip your whole world on its head – that get you to question everything you know.
Trust that you won’t lose yourself in this process and that you will come through it a wiser, more mature, more expanded person.
(With a few interesting food ideas to try at home.)
How do you travel without leaving home?