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Travel as a Lens for Reflection: Happy New Year!

A sunset at Falealupo, Savaii, Samoa.

When I travel, I imagine that I am talking to strangers from a different culture and that I witness different lives to learn about those same lives, but in reality I always reach hidden treasures; insights into my own reality and dreams. Sometimes the action of travel teaches me about myself: I learn to locate my destinations via public transportation in Beijing at night, I determine how to proceed while visiting Taipei, or perhaps that I really might eat fried cricket in Chiang Mai.

I can be bold, courageous and full of adventure. I know because I have succeeded in these endeavors. In The Good Girl’s Guide to Getting Lost Rachel Friedman states, “…sometimes travel and being adventurous do not fit with the model I hold of myself, …but it does not coexist with how I picture myself—a sheltered, scared, predictable kind of girl, definitely not a girl who has adventures. I come from rooted people; people who prefer chlorinated bodies of water and career paths.”

Travel allows us all to step out of “normal” life, to see other cultures, meet people, learn languages—learn about others while learning about ourselves.

This same opportunity is available to us through our daily calendar: we can question if our current routines are what we actually want to follow. Again, as Ms. Friedman says: “What’s the right way to go about … our lives? Should you do what you love, what’s outrageous and unpredictable, and worry about the future later? Or plug away at a steady job first and go off and have your fun when you retire?”

Elisabeth Eaves, in Wanderlust: A Love Affair with Five Continents,tells tales of love, misadventure and wringing every second of life out of every moment. She says:

My life wouldn’t be so easy to fix. I’d woken up at the age of thirty-four to realize that I wanted to go home, only to discover that I had no idea where that was. Wanderlust, the very strong or irresistible impulse to travel, is adopted untouched from the German, presumably because it couldn’t be improved upon.
Celebrating at the Vegetarian Festival in Trang, Thailand.

Her challenges seem much greater while living in varied locales like Cairo, Karachi, a boat shed, or surviving on the Kokoda Trail, compared to those I surmounted on my year trip in South East Asia with my husband, George. But her comments do remind me of our journey; “It was the place that had showed me, for the first time, that when you were somewhere else, you could be someone else.”

Her questions about life are important to me this time of year as I reflect on Rosh Hashannah (the Jewish New Year) and what will I do with the year ahead? What are my goals and what should they be?

Are we obligated to know the important events of our time? Or is the whole project of knowing, of being part of a society, neither moral nor immoral, but just away to pass the time? Is it enough to do no harm to the world, or do you have to contribute too? I wanted to go toward the man-made heat and light, the cultural center, the heart of civilization. At the same time, I didn’t want to get off the boat. (Wanderlust)

So take a moment to hug the ones you love and fill your days with meaning. Maybe this year you’ll decide to wear white for Yom Kippur; a white ribbon, pin, bracelet or shirt may remind you to stop and smell the roses and fill your soul with moments that take your breath away.

Author’s Notes:
This article first appeared in Westside Today September 24, 2011. I decided to share it for the Jewish New Year and I hope all your dreams and goals come true. Please consider participating in my #45×45 Do Good Birthday Solar Cooker Project. One person really can make a difference!

George and I wish everyone a wonderful sweet New Year filled with health, happiness and adventure!! Enjoy this video of song for the New Year:

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About

Lisa Ellen Niver, MA is a teacher, traveler, author, speaker and social media ninja who has traveled to over 100 countries and six continents. She is a frequent author in the Huffington Post, USA Today, Wharton Business Magazine, National Geographic, The Jewish Journal among many other publications. She is the founder of We Said Go Travel, a global online community of over 1400 writers with articles from every continent. As a 2012 nominee for the Presidential Award for Excellence in Math and Science Teaching, she received commendations from US Senator Barbara Boxer as well as Fran Pavley, Holly Mitchell, Eric Garcetti from California State Senate, and Assembly, and the Los Angeles City Council. She founded in 2009 the Los Angeles Science Teachers Network with teachers participating from over 70 schools, runs the Science Isn't Scary website and operated the Simply Science camp. She was featured on KTLA National TV on the program Career Day, a show that shares great careers for teens and was invited to speak as an expert on three different radio programs about global citizens, international education and the PISA test. She holds MA. and M.Ed degrees in education and graduated Cum Laude from the University of Pennsylvania. She is certified in California single and multiple subjects. She is currently working on the new Nickelodeon television show, Bella and the Bulldogs.

Comments
2 Responses to “Travel as a Lens for Reflection: Happy New Year!”
  1. Sarah Volpe says:

    This is a really nice piece of writing, it makes you feel all happy and philosophical! The photos are beautiful too!

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