What do you reckon is the best way to increase your understanding of the world? Education is great, but nothing compares with travel, amirite?
It’s one thing to simply be a tourist and see the sights, it’s another entirely to immerse yourself in another culture and really get a feel for the place.
Travel, whether it is a brief jaunt or an extended journey provides innumerable benefits. You gain such things as perspective, context, and a greater appreciation for the place you call home upon your return.
In days of old it was common to spend your entire life within a few miles of the village where you were born. Continual advances in communication and transportation technology have shifted our place in the world. As our reach gets bigger, the world gets smaller.
The thing about having greater virtual reach into a same-sized physical world is that crucial context is easily lost.
Riddle me this: Why is it that only a third of Americans hold a current passport? What are we missing when we myopically see ourselves as the center of the world?
Here’s the deal. Without context there can be no vision. This all bubbled up to the top of my brainpan yesterday listening to an interview on the radio about public transportation. The mayor of Boston wants to make public transit free for everyone, and has many good arguments to support her case.
A fellow from the UCLA Transportation Studies Institute made some good points that free for everyone is not the best answer, for instance in areas such as San Francisco where the highest earners take BART to the financial district in order to avoid traffic.
All sorts of interesting points were made, including one that I found familiar, that being the confusing mishmash of payment systems can make using regional transit systems more difficult.
Which brings us back to my point about travel, vision, and context. I got to thinking about their conversation in the light of places I’ve visited in the last several years.
If you’ve only ever lived somewhere with abysmal public transit, (like a vast majority of American cities), you simply can’t imagine what life with an efficient system would be like.
It’s harder to hold the vision and advocate for something you’ve never experienced. Car-centric solutions seem logical to folks who’ve never had anything else.
So guess what, if your town has its transit dialed in, you get to have more fun, be more fit, and live a more embodied lifestyle than your car-centric cousins!
Instead of “We drive everywhere, but we’ll take transit if we absolutely have to.“ it becomes “It’s way easier and more fun to bop around on the tram, so we just use the car occasionally for big errands or trips to the bush.” (paraphrasing my Melbourne-dwelling daughter here who just got her first vehicle at age 30.)
Try being a tourist in your own town. Think of it as an alternative to travel. It’s a great way to expand your vision and take a more embodied approach to your environment.
The more we can expand our vision and help others to expand theirs, the more possibilities for our planet we can create.
Much love till next Monday!
Director of the Dance First Association
Publisher of Conscious Dancer Magazine
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