Travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry, and narrow-mindedness, and many of our people need it sorely on these accounts. Broad, wholesome, charitable views of men and things cannot be acquired by vegetating in one little corner of the earth all one's lifetime. ~Mark Twain
One of my biggest dreams is to travel the world. I want to see everything I possibly can, meet as many people as possible, see things I didn’t even know existed. I could easily become bitter at my lot in life right now, which does not include the time, money or freedom to travel. (Though one of my heroes, Chris Guillebeau and his Travel Ninja Guide is totally inspiring me right now!)
However, I've realized that one does not have to travel the world in order to practice seeing things and people, and even yourself in a brand new way. Lately, I’ve been doing lots of reading and thinking about ideas that are completely outside my own spiritual tradition, political culture, and daily grind. Deliberately seeking out new ways of thinking has been incredibly refreshing, and I highly recommend it! For me, this has been my way of getting out of my little corner of the earth. I can feel my heart opening, my compassion growing, my own narrow mindedness exposed for what it is.
Have you ever stared at yourself in the mirror long enough that your image begins to look strange, distorted, or even a bit grotesque? Like you can’t believe its really your own image staring back at you? I think if you keep staring at the things you always do, reading the books you always read, and thinking the thoughts you always think long enough, the walls can start to build up. This unfortunate turn of events can go a couple of different ways. One, you can become prideful, thinking you’ve got it all figured out, and you have everything you need thank you very much. You put a No Trespassing sign outside your gate, and only let others in if they look, dress, act and think like you. If they know the secret handshake that’s a bonus. Or you can go the other way. You get walled in by your limiting beliefs, they bring you down and keep you stuck. You may believe that all the good things are “out there”, that all the other people have it better than you, have more talent, more freedom, are smarter, prettier, yada, yada, yada. They’ve figured it all out and they aren’t letting you in on the secret. You are the princess in the tower, and your hair isn’t long enough (or good enough) for the prince to notice you anyway.
I would challenge you to this. How can you venture out of your own little corner of the world? Where are you limiting your own view of the world? Where do you feel either superior or inferior to others? Gently remember that neither is true. Just remember, EVERYONE has an interesting, compelling story. The person on the street that gets your dander up for one reason or another, the people in the news doing crazy or fantastic things. And you. Everyone is here for a reason, created for love and a purpose.
Can you dig into each moment as it comes, even if you believe you are failing? Watch and see what happens. Can you suspend your judgment for an instant and simply watch as an observer, just for a moment? Can you read a book that you wouldn’t normally reach for that would let you travel in another’s shoes just for a moment? Can you observe your worldview the way a traveler from a foreign land would see it?
Be compassionate. Be gentle. We’re all doing the best we can at any given moment. Strive for more kindness. Little else matters.
With that, I leave you with this week's Found Art Flyer. If you haven't heard yet, the mission is to spread love and kindness in creative, stealthy ways in your community.
Download, Print and Run! Thanks to the brave* and fabulous Stephanie, for this beautiful reminder. Pop on over to her place and say Hi.
*And folks, let me tell you this. Whatever you have or are thinking about creating and sharing here IS good enough. I'd really, really love to see what you've got. I promise I'm super nice! :)