Perspectives of Growth in Travel

Sometimes when we travel, we only see things on the surface.  We look at relics in a museum, or we stare at a piece of art work, or we admire certain types of architecture.   Sometimes we read the signage to grasp what the piece is about and then we move on.  This approach to  travel can be interesting and entertaining, and certainly builds a knowledge base, but I am convinced that with this surface approach, we miss a great deal.

I always wonder about the stories of the people who lived and moved in those buildings, or who used the artifacts that I now look at on the shelf before me.  I think of the people who have told me that they don’t want to be viewed in a casket at the time of their funeral, but  go to the Science Museum to see dried cadavers that used to be human beings.  These bodies on display used to laugh, play cards, make love and do all of the things that humans do.  What is their story?  I want to know.

The Stage Manager in Thornton Wilder’s play, “Our Town”, discusses this idea in an observation of life:

            “Y’know—Babylon once had two million people in it, and all we know about ’em is         the names of the kings and some copies of wheat contracts… and contracts for                        the sale of slaves. Yet every night all those families sat down to supper, and the                  father came home from his work, and the smoke went up the chimney,—same as       here. And even in Greece and Rome, all we know about the real life of the people    is what we can piece together out of the joking poems and the comedies they                         wrote for the theatre back then.

            So I’m going to have a copy of this play put in the cornerstone and the people a              thousand years from now’ll know a few simple facts about us.”

At home and when I travel, I like to walk down streets and wonder about what people are thinking and doing.  I would like to understand their passions and their drive.  What gives them the strength to do what they do?  Do they ever think about what they do, or do they just do it?

Last summer,  a German friend took me to Leipzig where he grew up in communist East Germany.  I had been to Leipzig many times, but I had never really had the opportunity to hang out with someone who grew up there.  I heard so many stories.  I even got to see the street where he kissed his first girl friend.  By hearing his stories, I saw Leipzig in ways that I had never seen or heard it before.  I learned, from someone close to my age, what it was like to live in communist East Germany at the same time that I was growing up in the United States.  What a gift!

What do we want people in the future to know about us?  How might we communicate what is important to us?  What do we want to tell them about how we spent our life on earth?  How do we spend time hearing the stories of others and reflecting upon what it has meant and what it means today?

Travel and daily life are  enriched if we stop to ask questions.  Life takes on new meaning when we approach events and people with a curious mind.


1)         What made today special and how would you like to celebrate that?

2)         What legacy do you want to leave for the future?

3)         What is your passion that gets you out of bed in the morning and leads you throughout the day?

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