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Travel's Greatest Gift: Perspective

“That traffic out there is murder!” said a man in the Vermont village post office.

“I know! I waited forever,” a woman replied.

I finished sending my package, got in the car and turned onto one of the main roads in town. That's when I spotted the “traffic” (see pic).

I thought about how many hours I've spent gridlocked in six lanes of traffic on the 405.

"It's all about perspective," I thought to myself. And that got me thinking about travel and the incredible perspectives I've gained while on my nomad adventures.

In Bonaire, I put my foot in my mouth when I told some locals that the resort I would stay in was "only $180 a night!" My friend Jean gave me side-eye and I realized that to them, $180 a night was really expensive. I back peddled, trying to explain that in LA, $180 a night might get you a night at an airport Hampton Inn, which really only made me sound like more of a jerk.

In October 2021, in Ireland, after following the fun people from a castle to a local pub in Clifden, I met an older man who said, "I'm so sorry to hear about what's happening in America. It's just awful."

"Thank you, but I think we're headed in the right direction. At least Donald Trump is out of office," I said.

His blue eyes widened, and he said in his deep Irish accent, "Donald Trump isn't the problem! It's the radical democrats!"

"Ohhhhh," I said in surprise. "Where did you hear that?"

"FOX NEWS!" he said.

That Irish Man's perspective was completely opposite from Cristos, the lovely Greek man who ran the Molyvos Castle Hotel. In early July of 2022, I couldn't get the TV to work and he came to my room to help.

"There's a hearing I want to watch," I said.

"About abortion? It's horrible what's happening in America. None of us can believe it!" He said as he fiddled with the remote control.

"No, it's about the insurrection," I said.

He turned to me with scrunched eyebrows. "What is that?"

"People attacking the capital." I made a stabbing motion with my arm like the insurrectionists did when assaulting police officers with flagpoles.

"Oh!" He waved his hands around his head and said, "Donald Trump is a crazy man!"

During my writing retreat in Lesbos Greece, at dinner, a Saudi man asked what the hell was happening to the US. I tried to explain gerrymandering and voter suppression.

“Don’t you get fined for not voting?” An Australian writer friend asked.

“You get fined for not voting?” I asked, mind blown.

“So do we,” said a Greek woman next to me.

At the Greek writing retreat, when I read aloud a scene from the memoir I'm writing about healing chronic Lyme disease, the international writers were appalled that I'd snuck out of the hospital because I couldn't afford to stay overnight. They said:

"I don't understand. You left the hospital because you couldn't afford to get the care you needed?"

"The US is one of the richest countries in the world. Why don't they take care of their citizens?"

"You have to write this book. The world needs to know this stuff happens."

It was a great reminder that to the rest of the world, going into massive medical debt for healthcare is NOT normal. That in other countries, people don't have to launch a gofundme the minute a family member is diagnosed with a disease.

With all the travel I've done since launching my nomad journey, besides the amazing snorkeling, beautiful scenery, comfort zone stretching experiences, and wonderful people I've met, one of the things I'm most grateful for is perspective. Perspective builds a better understanding and more compassion for other people and cultures. It allows me to imagine what it might feel like to live in those countries and among those people and it allows me to see my country through other people's eyes.

It's been a fascinating experience.

What about you? Have you ever had an "ah ha" moment when hearing someone else's perspective? What was it? And how did it impact you?

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