Okay that’s not really true. Your family wants to see your photos, and your friends and roommate might. But the reality of coming back after traveling is often not the glorious homecoming we hope it will be. There comes a moment when you realize no matter how hard you try, that photo will never hold the same meaning for someone else as it does for you.
When I studied abroad in Peru it changed my life. The change was not drastic from the outside necessarily but it shifted my center. The impacts of my time there have been long-lasting and still continue to shape my worldview. That trip started me down the path that my life is headed now. Peru became my entire world, I was consumed by the city and the people and the experience.
People asked me, “What was your favorite part? What was the best thing you ate?” But what I wanted them to ask me was, “So how did you take the bus to school? Was it hard to connect with your host family because they didn’t speak english? How is Peruvian culture different from other Spanish-speaking countries?”
To me, Peru wasn’t the trip to Lake Titicaca, which I suppose was the “best part,” it was the moment on the bus ride there while I was looking out the window to see a million more stars than I’d ever known existed before. It was realizing that the same God who sprinkled them through the universe and is the thread that weaves together the cultures of this world, is also a God who cares about me when I’m sad.
Cusco wasn’t the delicious food, it was sitting around the table looking at the faces of my new family that loved me like a daughter.
So when I came back I wanted to share that world, that feeling with the people I love. But you cannot share a world and you cannot make someone feel what you have felt. You can share photos and tell stories but that’s it. And I think that is what has driven me to try to take really good photos and tell really good stories because I desperately want the people who are important to me to feel something of what I felt while I was away.
Writing is a good way of doing that, and this blog has been the way that I have tried to tell those stories, and bring people into some of the experiences I’ve had.
But at the end of the day you don’t travel for the sake of telling someone else about it. You should travel for yourself, for your mind. Not selfishly, but to realize your place in the world. To see just how small you are and just how much you still don’t understand.
And then, If you can tell a good story after and make people feel something that’s amazing. But that’s not the point. And that is something I have a very hard time with.
I want desperately to be able to recreate those feelings for the people I care about but I will never be able to. And that’s okay.
The success of an experience is what you learn from it. Not how much of it you are able to give to someone else.
So, travel with the purpose of understanding and seeing and experiencing. Not capturing and sharing and showing. And I really believe that if you keep your eyes up and open while you’re away, you will have a much deeper understanding where you’ve been. And that will in turn make the sharing and showing much easier and more interesting for your loved ones.
Thanks for reading.