I read this today, from a young woman who had spent the better part of three years traveling the world:

“You can’t really learn anything about the world by staying in your own neighborhood.”

Let me say first that of all the things I didn’t do before getting a job and getting married and starting a family, I miss traveling the most. Or rather, I wish I could miss it. I had my pilgrimage to Yugoslavia and Rome during Senior year of high school, and since then…does Ensenada count? (Actually, yes, I think it does.)

Second, let me affirm what is true in what she says – it is always good to remember that the world is a very big place, full of people very different from oneself in many ways.

But at the end of the day, I think she’s mistaken. Your own neighborhood is a world unto itself. Your own family is a world unto itself. And you can learn an awful lot about the world from what’s close at hand, if you pay attention.


  1. Rachel Swenson Balducci says

    When I think about travel, the old adage comes to mind: wherever you go, there you are.

    It’s great to get out and see and do and experience, but you can still find out an awful lot about yourself (and how to love and live) by just embracing life wherever you are.

    Having said that, I can’t wait to visit wine country. Just a suthern girl wantin’ to get to Cali.

  2. Adam DeVille says

    Your comment reminds me of the Canadian writer Alice Munro, who has spent much of her life in smalltown Ontario, places that, superficially, seem like total Hicksville. But she finds very much there to write about without having to travel; she has a very catholic grasp of the human condition (and consequent international following as a writer), captured not least in her observation (to paraphrase) that ‘people’s lives are dull, boring, amazing and unfathomable: deep caves covered with kitchen linoleum.’

  3. I mostly agree. Travelling, apart from escaping what you really should be doing, at best teaches you about yourself – and often nothing of where you’re travelling. The Spanish Steps are soon forgotten, but the desire to push the swarm of inane other tourists down them remains.

  4. Or rather, she is right, and the same view could be taken for the smaller worlds, such as your own neighborhood.

  5. “I sometimes think it is a pity that people travel in foreign countries; it narrows their minds so much.”

    – G. K. Chesterton

  6. Oh BEAR, you are so young and protected. Damn those people over these past centuries who traveled to AMERICA and found new lives, families, hope and freedom!

    How soon we forget.

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