“To travel is to take a journey into yourself.” Danny Kaye
When we travel, we broaden our understandings about the world, and are enriched by exploring different cultures. What is less well known, is that in travel, we come to know ourselves even better.
We recently returned home after a trip to Ireland. It was a wonderful trip to a lovely place, and I enjoyed it for many reasons, not in the least for what it taught me about myself. What can you learn about yourself through travel?
Every doorway is an invitation to explore.
Travel gives you a chance to explore, to try new things, to say “yes” to something you might not do in your ordinary day-to-day life. Not knowing what is around the corner or through a door wakens your senses and allows you to be adventurous. I am not a risk taker by nature, and I appreciate the way travel opens me up to trying something unfamiliar.
We are a part of those who have come before us.
I am constantly in awe of the sense of history I find in travel. Visiting ancient sites gives you a glimpse into the past. Graveyards, especially, are a source of interest as I wonder about my ancestors. Who were they and what were they like? The ruins at the Rock of Cashel were once the home to the kings of Ireland, the O’Briens, my husband’s ancestors. What will you learn about your past?
We are connected to others through time and place.
As I looked at the view from this castle window, I couldn’t help but imagine a woman, long ago, looking at this same view. I am reminded of my love of houses, and appreciated the chance to get a glimpse inside this woman’s home. Her life would have been very different from mine, and I wonder if she, like me, took care to make her home comfortable and warm, a happy place for her family to gather.
Protect what is important to you.
In Ireland, there is a castle around every corner. Most of them are perched high on a hill, facing out to the sea. This allowed the occupants to be ever vigilant for oncoming visitors or invaders. Despite the images of castles we see in Disney movies, many real castles are small castles, built for a family and their tenants. Just as we wish to protect our families today, these families designed their homes for the safe-keeping of their most precious and valuable things. Castle walls allowed people to bring their goats and chickens inside, safe from marauding wolves. Seeing these castles reminds me of what I hold most dear, and then lengths I go to in order to protect my own family.
In what is new we also find the familiar.
Though half way around the world, we found many familiar sights. Ireland is not unlike Wisconsin, with rolling hills and many farms. Wherever I have traveled, I recognize bits of home. It makes me realize that though we live in different places, we are not so different. It is a lesson I think we need in today’ s world where divisiveness often makes headlines.
Maintain a sense of wonder.
I am fascinated by these stone circles, found throughout Ireland, Scotland, and England. No one is sure about their original purpose, which adds to the intrigue. No wonder fantasy writers find them scope for the imagination! Having a sense of wonder keeps us young at heart and open to life-long learning. Inquisitiveness is a sign that you are constantly growing and I hope I never lose my sense of wonder.
You will find the things you love everywhere.
I love book stores, and what could be better than this colorful specimen? I am now inspired to photograph book stores wherever I travel. I find book stores to be familiar, comforting, and full of new ideas. I’m wishing that I had bought a book in Gaelic, which is a fascinating language. As we drove through the west and northern parts of Ireland, I enjoyed trying to figure out the sounds and patterns in Gaelic words. This picture reinforces my love of language.
Be inspired by mystical beauty.
The weather in Ireland is often cloudy, rainy or misty. It made taking photographs difficult, but also left a beautiful, mystical haze. This is the stuff of legends, of Brigadoon and Tolkien. I think of the stories I read as a child, of fairies and selkies and of things you can almost, but not quite believe. When you see the mist rise off of a mountain, you can believe anything is possible.
As we drove through the countryside, we talked about future trips. We look forward to experiencing new sights, smells, and tastes. We want to get to know places through their history. We want to learn more about the people around the world and allow the world to teach us more about ourselves.
What about you? What do you learn when you travel? Do you learn more about yourself? There are readers here from all over the world, I’d love to hear your travel stories!