Becoming Myself, through Travel

Considering whether to finish writing my book, I ask you, my blog readers, if this might be of interest to you and to others you know. My introduction may include some of this:

In her evocative memoir, The Empathy Diaries, Sherry Turkle, MIT professor of Social Studies of Science and Technology, explores what process might allow or cause someone to see themselves differently: “their past, their present, their possibilities for change.” (P. 198) Although Turkle’s focus was on technology as the propagator of change, in my life, I have had the opportunity to observe myself change with travel as the mechanism. Furthermore, travel creates, but does not mandate, the opportunity for change, beginning with making the decision to travel.

DJ DiDonna imagined new possibilities for his life after his 900-mile Buddhist pilgrimage in Japan. (2/16/23 Harvard Gazette article) After being a successful entrepreneur, DJ was beginning to burn out. Sometimes the downside of a successful life is imagining being confined within it forever. Even within a wonderful life, we need change.

In her 2/16/23 Radcliffe lecture, Jennifer Finney Boylan asked, “How do we become ourselves?” Although she asked the question as a trans author, she suggests that this process is universal, that we all seek “the next best draft of the self.”

Rick Steves, travel writer, adds another layer to this by suggesting that travel not only changes the traveler, but indeed changes the world. (Travel as a Political Act, 2021, Rick Steves.)

Not being quite as bold as Rick, the basis for this book is that my life and its direction have been remarkably altered by my travel and also by my decision to travel. It’s not intended as a travelogue, although the travel descriptions may be of interest, but as a narrative of some key moments of my life that were uniquely affected by my travel choices, alternating with descriptions of that travel. It’s very clear to me that my life has been affected by my travel choices. My strongest wish is that, as a traveler, my effect on the world has not been as an ‘ugly American.’ (The Ugly American, 1958, Burdick, Eugene and Lederer, William)

In this book, I will describe four particular trips, very different from each other, and how they each changed me, by changing my ‘possibility for change.’ The four trips were 1. A trans-Atlantic sail with another couple in their 43-foot cutter in 1995, 2. A month traveling solo in Thailand in 2001, 3. A three-week visit as a volunteer in a Kenyan orphanage in 2012, and 4. Eighteen days in Israel and Palestine in 2019.

Karnak Temple, Egypt, November 2022

Some of my other travel not described here includes multiple two to three week trips to France and Italy; Panama and cruising its canal; Turkey, England, the Camino pilgrimage in Spain, Egypt; and a year traveling throughout the United States, including two months in Mexico, with my first husband, our 5-year-old son, and our dog. Each of those trips must have changed me and my possible futures as well, but in this book, I am choosing to focus on the sail, Thailand, the Kenyan orphanage, and Israel/Palestine for three specific reasons. First: the changes generated in me by those trips have been very apparent both to me and others; also, because I have some written records of each, and, finally, because something I wrote after the Israel/Palestine trip has just returned to remind me of that trip’s influence on me and on others who heard about it from me. . .

Do you want more?

Copyright ©️ 2022

Published by cyrein

Quaker, adventurer, wife, mom, sister, friend, special ed teacher, learner

14 thoughts on “Becoming Myself, through Travel

  1. Carole, it’s interesting that in the book SAPIENS, the authors comments on how hunter/gathers or agricultural cultures never even contemplated travel. My brain said ‘because they didn’t have the option.’ think, when done well, it broadens our frame of the possible, enables a growth of empathy, and also allows you to experience some norms that you find abhorrent and are left to think deeply about. The only downside, when you are an open, sensitive, and inquisitive journey maker, is the climate impact . We all wrestle with this, and until there are international rules, must make our own calls. Would love to know more about how your journeys have touch your journey.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Yes, having done a great deal of traveling myself, I would love to read about your various journeys! I say ‘go for it’! Sue McCracken

    “There are three ways to ultimate success: the first way is to be kind. The second way is to be kind. The third way is to be kind.” -Fred Rogers

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Carole,

    LIke you I’ve had some expansive adventures and encounters when traveling. Enjoying other parts of the world–the novelties it brings–is a wonderful thing. I wouldn’t say that travel is the best way to deepen your life experience, only tht it’s one way. From the book outline you’ve presented I’m very much looking forward to reading about your epiphanies.

    At the same time I wonder about making decisions for a full, rich life within an effort to live simply. Perhaps you’ve thought about that too and will share your conclusions.


    Liked by 1 person

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