“The world is a book and those who do not travel read only a page,” -Saint Augustine of Hippo.
Man, I love a good book. I am currently reading April Morning by Howard Fast which follows the life of a young teen caught in the fray of his family and politics during that first Revolutionary War battle in Lexington. It is an old book I have read before, but I am finding it fascinating as I read with adult eyes.
My reading tastes are wild and varied… I like mysteries, romance, poetry, and nonfiction too. (Next on my list is Storm in a Teacup: The Physics of Everyday Life.)
Reading is an amazing feat. In just a few seconds I am literally transformed into a world full of suspense and drama. Lives are in danger, relationships are explosive, dialogue is poetic and daring, and the characters become my fast friends or loathed enemies within just a chapter or two.
And the great part about it— as soon as I close the cover, I let it go. I can return to the dirty kitchen or head off to a volleyball game and not give those book folks another thought or fret. I can get involved, and then I can move on. I think that exercise of releasing someone else’s stress is good for the soul. That’s why I love a good book.
For the same reasons I love to travel. I absolutely enjoy breathing in the air of a new city; I love hiking new terrain; I am even excited about trying new food or fashion. I like meeting strangers, from all cultures and creeds, in hotel lobbies or airport gateways and engaging in soulful conversions, knowing I will probably never see them again.
I recently met a man on a plane who was on his way to Patagonia, South America for a three week hike through rough mountains and unchartered lands. He was almost seven feet tall, so I switched seats with him to give him more leg room. I met a couple in California on a hot air balloon ride. They were young and smiling and explained that they worked together in a paper company in Oklahoma. (I couldn’t help but think of Jim Halpert and Pam Beasley and wonder if their office was as fun as Dunder Mifflin.) I’ve met an up-and-coming artist from Chicago and an author from Mississippi. Fun, simple folks with big dreams and great stories.
Travel, like a good book, is an adventure. And, like a good book, it changes my perspective, reminds me that life is pretty good, and that others worldwide are struggling through the same journey that I am. Most people, in any culture, want to be listened to and respected. And the more I travel, the more impressed with people I become. And I gain a new optimism about the future.