Saturday, November 28, 2009

Why I Travel

Most Frequent Responses to
"I'm Quitting My Job and Traveling Around the World"
(In Order of Frequency)
  1. Wow.
  2. That's cool.
  3. Where are you going?
  4. What are you doing?
  5. What do your parents/ family think?
  6. Are you going back to your job when you get back?
  7. Did you save up a lot?
  8. I wish I could this, that, or the other thing.
  9. I went to this place when I was this many years old...
  10. When are you coming home? or How long will you be away?
Notably absent from the list?  "Why are you going?"

Rarely am I asked what could possibly possess me to sell all my stuff, quit my job, and leave my loved ones without so much as a forwarding address.  Either people think I'm crazy, in which case no explanation is needed, or they think I'm taking off for a two year vacation, in which case no explanation is needed.

I'm not (that) crazy, and I don't believe in vacations.

The best, and perhaps only, explanation I have is that I'm curious.  And the only way I know to satisfy curiosity is to see, hear, smell, taste, touch, and do.  I am particularly curious about the following topics and hope to explore them during my wanderings.
  • Religion & faith:  I will be passing by some of the holiest places of the five major world religions, including my own and Dave's.  I am interested in how religion is expressed in architecture, design, and urban form, and how faith (the personal version of religion) is expressed by individuals.
  • The natural environment:  I'm a sucker for trees and flightless birds (squeeee!!!).  I hope to encounter new (to me) species, and, by reading and researching, talking to people, and experiencing it for myself, learn about how those species interact in their ecosystems.  I'm also interested in how humans influence or change the natural environment.
  • The secret, and not-so-secret, lives of women:  I can tell you about being a 27-year old woman with 0 children and 1 college degree in New York State in 2009.  Can you tell me about being a 27-year old woman with 2 children and 1 job in Manila in 2009?
  • Health & folk medicine:  The way my country and my culture thinks about, promotes, and sells "health" is not the only way.  I'm particularly interested in plant-based and/or traditional, "folk" medicine.
  • Children & the elderly:  We begin as children, and we end as elderly.  What do the place, role, and value of the young and old say about a culture?
  • Food & food systems:  Food comes from somewhere.  In New York State, I rarely know from where my food comes.  I'm interested in how the food system works in other places, particularly in urban areas (this is an old academic interest of mine).
Maybe I'll learn about that stuff.  Maybe I won't--maybe I'll learn about other stuff.  That's where the "growth" part happens:  being open to whatever comes my way, even if it's not what I think I want.

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