On this Fourth of July, I’d like to reflect on the definition of the word independence as it relates to travel, and to me. It is a real privilege for me to have the independence to see the world. I never take it for granted. I make a concerted effort to find a bit of sun in even the bleakest of places because there is nothing worse to me than to find a fellow traveler who complains about the imperfect conditions of the destination upon arrival. In traveling we are all guests to other people’s homes, and respect demands appreciation for the opportunity to immerse ourselves in the experience, good or bad.
In fact, the more challenging the destination, the more profound the journey becomes for me. I am humbled by witnessing abject poverty and restricted freedom in certain places. I’m not sure which is worse, being refrained from life opportunities because your hands are tied from immutable poverty or because your voice is not allowed to be heard. I like to think that the silver lining in all human misery is that will to survive another day, in spite of the circumstances, just for a small chance to make things better.
The more I visit other cultures, the more I understand that is what makes Americans tick. No matter how bad things sometimes get, we thrive under pressure, we rise to the challenge, and we cheer for the underdogs. But are we so different from any other society that practices all these things? Probably not, but nowhere else do we get to live life in such utter freedom. Â So for all the independence required to lead a life of wandering, it is freedom that brings me home to this country every single time. Don’t take it for granted America. Freedom rocks!
Happy Independence Day.