Travel Expands the Mind

“Travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry, and narrow-mindedness, and many of our people need it sorely on these accounts. Broad, wholesome, charitable views of men and things cannot be acquired by vegetating in one little corner of the earth all one’s lifetime.”

― Mark Twain, Mark Twain: The Innocents Abroad/Roughing It

One person’s exotic locale is another’s backyard. Yet this doesn’t stop the romantic appeal of the traveling life.

While “broad, wholesome, charitable views” may not be found sitting at home on the couch, consider your backyard as a wilderness awaiting exploration.

Living overseas for the first time when young, I returned home for a vacation, a strange concept to consider, and my mother asked me what I wanted to do. Clearly she wished to help me do something that I’ve missed being so far from home.

I surprised her by requesting a tour of my own hometown of Seattle.

Traveling means answering the question on a regular basis, “Where are you from?” It helps to also have some vocabulary and historical familiarity with your hometown so you can answer the many questions people have about your fascinating corner of the universe. While I could easily respond to inquires like, “Do you know any cowboys and Indian?” I had few answers to the rest of their questions.

On the bus tour of Seattle, I learned that Seattle had more trees per square block in the city than any city in the world. I learned that the Boeing aircraft facility in Everett, Washington, was the largest building on one floor in the world. I learned that downtown Seattle was supposed to be on what is now called Alki Point. The term “Skid Row” was named for what is now the street of Yesler Way in honor of Henry Yelser’s sawmill. The loggers skidded the logs down the hill to the sawmill, and occasionally one would shoot off the steep road and into the shacks built by the poor workers, often with disastrous results. I learned about the removal of Denny Hill and the dirt used to fill in the Duwamish River basin, now home to the industrial area of Seattle and the artificial Harbor Island, long home to the shipyards where my father worked.

So many things I learned that day, and I wanted more. Traveling and exploring new places made me want to learn more about my own home.

As you explore your blogging topics, look far, but use the stories from afar to bring you back home to where home is, where things are familiar but seen through new eyes, the eyes of a traveler. Share stories of the familiar from the perspective of a tourist.

Whatever your blog topic, it helps to see it fresh through the eyes of a traveler. You may come to appreciate it more, as well.

One comment on “Travel Expands the Mind”

  1. An excellent post! You’ve inspired me to do more exploration close to home–and to see it with a traveler’s eyes.

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