Traveling: A Priceless Gift
Travel. The word alone evokes pictures, thoughts, memories and dreams. Whether it's the trip of a lifetime that you're planning, the warm reflection on a vacation with family or, heaven forbid, the nightmare vacation that you are finally laughing about 20 years later; travel opens the senses in a way that nothing else can. To me, travel is the one of the greatest means to the most priceless gift that we're afforded in this life.
"What's that gift?" you might ask. Well, continue with me on this short journey and let's discover together.
Picture a small cafe along a tree-lined walkway in warm, early September in Verona, Italy. (If you've never been, just let your imagination take over.) You're sitting there with that special someone by your side, together, sharing a pizza pie and watching local Italians stroll by. You comprehend little to none of the language but you see faces, expressions, tone and laughter that tell you wonderful stories. You're soaking in the magnificent architecture just across the way when a pair of Italian businessmen take up chairs at a table beside you. Suddenly, you're captivated by these two men. Both are sharply dressed with crisp shirts, perfectly knotted ties, fine Italian leather shoes and tailor-fitted suits. The one gentleman is obviously the elder statesmen. He must be in his late 70s to early 80s. The other in his late 50s, is a strong support, his "right-hand" man, it appears. You know they've been here before because of the friendly banter with the resident waiter and the immediate delivery of food before an order is even placed. In this picturesque setting, and for reasons you can't quite explain, you're compelled to attempt a conversation with these men. Without any air whatsoever, the elder gentleman, receives your torture of the Italian language in good humor by responding in much better, though somewhat broken English. This short exchange lasts for 10-15 minutes. You laugh, nod, ponder and appreciate the interaction. They go their way back to the business they left but you remain at your table, the richer for the exchange. You just gave and received the gift.
Travel affords us the gift of connecting with people from varied cultures, in different venues, across all walks of life. Whether at a sidewalk cafe in Verona or a hiking trail in Mt. Rainier National Park, travel near and far opens the door to connecting with those we may otherwise never meet. Travel continually affords opportunity for real-life connections. Not virtual Facebook or Twitter connections. Real people, just like you and I, everywhere we go. Each one holding a gift waiting for you and I to initiate the exchange. The gift of knowing someone you didn't know before. The gift of hearing a voice you've never heard before. The gift of shared stories, laughter, photo exchanges and maybe, just maybe, the gift of a newfound friendship.
So, travel down to the waterfront, travel into the mountains, travel across the ocean but all along the way, stretch yourself to take advantage of a priceless gift – the gift of connecting with your fellow man. I'll be looking for you. Be sure to say "hello." We'll both be the richer for it.