“The World is a book, and those who do not travel read only a page.” – St. Augustine
Imagine being given the best book ever written, reading one page, then putting it on the shelf. Every day, you look at the book, and complacently watch it collect dust. Friends occasionally come by to visit and tell you stories from the book, regaling you with tales of adventure and places of beauty, yet still you do not open the book.
You convince yourself life is just fine without reading the book. You live each day in your comfort zone, never venturing too far from home. You fill your hours, days, and weeks with routine tasks and events. Most of the time, you are satisfied, doing the same things, interacting with the same people, and thinking the same thoughts. Both your sphere of influence and your world view remain small, and that is how you like it.
The book, you’ve been told, would open your eyes to people and places you never knew existed. It would open your mind to new ideas, and would open your heart to what lies beyond your own horizon.
What holds you back? What prevents you from opening the book, reading page after page, savoring each chapter, and waking up each day longing to read more?
As St. Augustine metaphorically suggests, the “book” is the world – our big, wide, wonderful world. Mountains and seas, deserts and swamps, prairies and beaches await our discovery. People from other lands, other cultures, or even other states within our own country are ready to welcome us.
And, as Augustine continues, “…those who do not travel read only a page.”
My husband frequently comments, “The best money you can spend is first on education, and second on travel.” When I think of my own travels, I never regret the money spent; in fact, I feel enriched by each experience. Travel broadens our perspectives, stretches our thinking, opens our eyes to how others live, and educates us in a classroom without walls and without limits.
Each new destination I have been exposed to has left an impact. Memories have been created; friendships have been forged. Bits and pieces of other ways of life have been incorporated into mine. I relive my travels through the photographs I take and the small mementoes I bring back that become part of my home.
Since I have traveled to many Caribbean destinations, I surround myself with things of the islands – pottery from Tortola, Nevis, Cozumel and Barbados; handcrafted wind chimes from the Grenadines; cookbooks, artwork, and jewelry.
I have DVDs of our dive with dolphins in Curacao and our reef dives in Cozumel. My sand collection – sand samples placed in glass spice bottles – grows with every trip. Shells and remnants of coral and sea fans collected on countless beaches are on display in nearly every room.
If I had not traveled – to Germany, Great Britain, twenty-plus islands in the Caribbean, and a lot of the U.S. (with a lot more yet to see…) – I would be bereft. In many ways I would be a different person. It was in Germany that I learned to love coffee. In England, I gained an appreciation for a good cup of tea and scones. If I hadn’t traveled the Caribbean, I may have never tasted Ting or Ginseng-Up. And that’s just the beverage category!
If I had not focused on island travel, I would never have been able to pursue my love of scuba diving. I would not have the appreciation and understanding that I do of the undersea world.
When travel to a faraway destination is out of reach, I satisfy my feelings of deprivation by traveling closer to home, but with the same enthusiastic explorer mindset. A lot of us never play tourist in our own backyards. There is much to see and experience within a 100-mile radius of wherever we live, if we are willing to forsake the familiar and seek out an adventure.
I have read many pages in the “book” that is the World and hope to read many more, but, alas, there are so many pages (places) and so little time. It is one book that I will never finish.
So what holds you back? What prevents you from opening the book that is the world and exploring it from cover to cover? I urge you not to make the mistake of living your life in a small, narrow, closed world.
Read more than one page.
If you are ready to explore the world of tropical travel, check out my column on Examiner.com: http://www.examiner.com/x-12498-Tropical-Travel-Examiner