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Tuesday, October 2, 2007

Expanding Horizons and Travel

U Beins bridge is over 200 years old and made entirely out of teak wood. Mandalay, Burma. Photo Credit

One of the best ways to enrich your mind? One of the best ways to expand your inner horizons? One of the best ways to gather new experiences into your existing repertoire in such a way that your parameters grow exponentially so that you will never again be able to see the world in the same way as before?

Travel.

But mind you, not the tourism kind. That will merely allow you to see the world as you might observe fish in an aquarium. You'll never be part of that world if you don't get right into it. That means meeting the locals, learning the language, or at least enough of it to have some rudimentary conversation, eating what people from there eat (that mostly means staying away from the burger joints, although many locals all over the world are beginning to find them as enticing as the originating cultures of that particular gem do (hey, I like burgers too...I'm not knocking them!).

So, it means not being part of an organized tour, not doing a herd thing as you go through a country, it means actually joining with the culture of that particular place during the period of time that you are there. It means opening your awareness to the "different-ness" of the place, in order to allow yourself to expand as you acknowledge and appreciate it, and in that process, try to begin to understand it.

Do you enjoy travel books or documentaries? Then you will have appreciated how much the authors or producers of these appear to mesh with local life, and how much richer that makes their experience of that place. Attempting to understand another people, another culture, even if it is one that is - philosophically or experientially - very close to your own, allows you to set foot in another world, allows you to go to a place you have never been, because it is different. Even your neurons and dendrites will benefit. The accelerated learning process of such a trip, done in such a way, is infinitely more expanding than either staying at home, not traveling, or traveling as in being a tourist.

Give it a whirl. You'll never look at your own place in quite the same way again, because you will be more thanks to the experience.

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