Thursday, September 5, 2013
Was it tsunami, or poverty? Did deep warm water inundate the people who lived here, or debt, or sadness, or a feeling that maybe life could be better somewhere else?
These are the things you can't possibly know, when you're traveling, and you walk by a place. These are the things you ponder briefly as you look out over that fickle ocean in Tangalle, Sri Lanka, with an icy Lion beer numbing your hand, until you remember that it's almost dinnertime, and start wondering what you'll eat. These are the things you forget entirely when you go home to your normal life, where you worry about your own small world - how good a mother you are, whether you can write or not or do science or not, if you own too many clothes or too few, can you justify cosmetic dentistry?
Sometimes I have to reset my focus, look outside my own problems and remember that great big world out there. Travel does that - it gives me perspective, even if it's only temporary. At any moment, I might be sad or happy or anxious or angry, and people out there in the world are are experiencing all that, too - some more, some less. There's joy and loss and certainty and disorientation all around me, around all of us, and that's life. It's how we live, in ups and downs. We're not alone in that.
And I'm not saying it's a good idea to start peering through windows in foreign countries - or even down our own streets - but maybe just a little curiosity about the world around us is a good thing. And maybe a little bit of peering is good, too.