I LUV Winter Park, yes, I do. But I learned long ago there are two quite different benefits to leaving home, even ones we LUV. The first is, of course, simply seeing and enjoying wherever you have gone to. The second is that, at least for me, it inevitably makes me appreciate home that much more.
I’ve been fortunate in my life to do a good bit of traveling, seeing some fantastic places around the world. Not everyone has that travel bug. But I’ve never quite understood how it is avoided. We lived in Atlanta in late-2000 and our street had regular supper club gatherings, a different home hosting each time. I still remember the location, the discussion, that there was lasagna that night, my excitement telling neighbors we’d be traveling to India in just a few months. The question which followed stunned me: Why would you want to go there?
The better question in my mind is why would you not? The trip exceeded my lofty expectations, my hopes for it. Early on, as we were to visit “caves” in Aurangabad, to the east of Mumbai, I believe I was actually a bit complacent at the marvels this country holds. My eyes widened as we visited The Ajunta & Elora ‘caves’, two of the most impressive, amazing sights I have ever laid eyes on. They’re not caves, but temples either carved deep into the sides of mountains, or, as is the case with The Elora ‘cave’, a temple where half a mountain once stood. These ornate, amazing stone environments had been carved over centuries by hand. It was stunning to contemplate anyone undertaking such a mammoth task and know they would never see its completion, nor would their children’s children. This was about commitment on a scale it is now difficult to fathom. In the modern world we expect everything today, would have preferred it yesterday. We take so much granted we forget it has not always been that way, the lives others experienced before us. I believe it would be difficult to find such commitment today. No, impossible.
There are two places on earth my partner and I joke that we would pack our bags tonight and leave tomorrow. India is one of those. There are sights and experiences there which rival the pyramids of Egypt, yet you’ve never heard of them. The second is Sydney, Australia. It is magic to me, filled with perhaps the most naturally gregarious, good-natured and fun people on earth. I was truly more excited the first time I saw the Sydney Opera House than when I first saw The Eiffel Tower, Big Ben, the skyline of Hong Kong, most everything else I’ve been fortunate to see which can become iconic in your mind before you’ve ever had the pleasure of seeing it in person. The Taj Mahal is the one thing that comes close.
Travel is a bit of a misnomer for what we speak of, in my mind, because the actual travel part is what gets you there, not the good part. What makes the heart beat faster, what thrills the eyes and ears, the taste buds, sometimes shocks and dismays (Ni Hao, China!), is all at the other end of the flights, the drives, THE traveling. It is there, at the end, that you have the opportunity to see and learn, to experience and enjoy, things you’ve wondered about all your life, others you’ll remember the rest of it. The world seems smaller and bigger all at the same time.
This evening The Global Peace Film Festival gets underway, with a reception at The Winter Park Welcome Center and then a movie on The Green at Rollins College.
The movie tonight is ‘Mistaken for Strangers’, about two brothers. You’ll find the films in the series are wide-ranging, varied, set in far off places or in communities not so different than your own. I’m sure there may be some things which shock, others which sadden, likely others which can uplift and inspire, much like what you experience when you travel, get out there and experience things after a flight, a drive, seek to see and experience the world. Global peace, I’m quite certain, is aided when we do that.
When we better understand our world, we better know ourselves and appreciate our place in it. Our globe is truly a fascinating place.
Hope to see you tonight.