It was late in the afternoon while I was waiting for my tea to brew, I was flipping through my travel photos. The smiles, the candid moments, and the magnificent views. Yes, they may just be photos, but embedded on those are the memories and experiences I shared with my friends and others I kept on my own. Memories that made a great impact on my timeline and experiences that changed the way I view life. Experiences that I wouldn’t have tasted if I haven’t started traveling.
As I was sipping my tea, memories of the old days came rushing. Who would have thought that a reserved and tamed boy would turn out to be an outgoing and adventurous man? Exactly the opposite of what I used to be. Straight years of chasing academic excellence and consistently being on the school’s honors list. I was not a risk-taker then. I stick with the plans and never diverge. Monochromatic in some ways. But deep within, my free-spirit has longed to spread its clipped wings. Until I did what I never thought I could. Travel.
I continued digging through my travel photos while reminiscing the memories behind each image. I remember my very first travel experience outside my home province, I was at a place where culture and language barrier between me and the locals exist. That was the very first time I realized how diverse the culture around the world is. It piqued my curiosity. I wanted to immerse and learn. From then on, I got hooked with traveling.
Traveling can be a frightening thing to do. Going to a place where you haven’t been leaves you vulnerable. It also exposes you to different situations. You have no one else to rely on but yourself. All you can do is to put your trust to the people around and learn to flow and think quick as situations change. Traveling made me open up myself and trust other people but at the same time made me wiser on choosing who to trust. It made me the street-wise person that I am now who can adapt to whatever situations I am in. It also amplified my sense of self-responsibility. Making me accountable for all my actions and stand for it.
As I marked each beautiful spots and places I’ve been to, gradually I noticed I am evolving as a person. I became the more appreciative version of myself. Seems like I was given a new set of eyes. I get to see things on a wider scale and from a different perspective. Grateful for life and appreciative of everything that I face. Most importantly, thankful to God for allowing me to experience and witness his creations. This world is wonderful indeed. Graced with beauty and shadowed with mystery.
What makes the destination special is not the place itself. It is the culture, history, and the people behind that makes it more interesting.
I believe this is something that the new generation of travelers miss. I too was not an exception once. Admittedly, I used to travel just for the sake of capturing good photos for something to brag about over the social media. Traveling does not only involve going to places and see the aesthetics of the place. I believe it has to do more on immersing yourself into the culture and reaching out to the people along the way. Discovering the tales of the villages and towns. Listening to the stories of the people and living life in the shoes of the locals even just for a few moments.
Interacting with people around, locals or other travelers, gave me a lot of realizations that changed my outlook on life. Listening to their stories made me become a more empathic person. Making me realize that we are not going through a series of uniform experiences, which made me understand and see the different angles of their views. This made me easy to relate what others might be experiencing.
Immersing myself with the people of different walks of life made me realize that life is so simple. Pondered on the thought that the material world does not matter in the afterlife. That the list of important things in life is simply short. What matters are the relationships we build, the connections we had, and the number of lives we touched. Somehow upon realizing this, it made me sad how chained we are to the material world. That we would even severe ties to attain material wealth. Traveling made me value the people around me even more. It made me appreciate the people I can call friends. Most especially the people who constantly supported me whom I call family.
Traveling may bring different impacts to each one of us. But one thing is for sure, it definitely changed my outlook on life. I can see the difference between what I am now and what I used to be. As I continue my passion for traveling, I can’t help but feel ecstatic for the new experiences and realizations that I will meet. Traveling has made me become the fearless and adventurous man who I am today. Always ready to explore and unafraid to venture out from the monochromatic world. At the same time, it humbles me and keeps me grounded as I get to see the different views in life and makes me aware that what I know is just a fraction of a piece of what the world is made up. Traveling makes me feel like a blank white canvas. Ready to accept the different colors of life painted as a masterpiece by the artist called Time.