When I first moved to Taiwan I was fascinated with everything. I walked around stupefied, a silly grin permanently plastered to my face, amazed at the incredible world that I had discovered. That lasted for about three years.
I don’t smile like that anymore. I haven’t for quite some time. About a year-and-a-half ago the things that once enchanted me, the incense burning in urns in front of temples, the small aluminum roofed houses, the palm trees that line the boulevards, became commonplace and I became unhappy.
I thought that I had become too comfortable in Taiwan, so I went to Guatemala. I wanted to rediscover the wide-eyed wonder that I felt when I first moved to Asia. But I didn’t. After having traveled around Asia, Central America seemed too similar to home. It bored me.
The problem, however, wasn’t Guatemala, nor was it Taiwan. The problem was me.
We travel to feel like children again, to be adrift in a an enchanting world, to discover possibilities beyond our imaginations. When I first moved to Taiwan I was caught up in this enchantment. This enchantment is what people speak of when the speak of being bitten by the travel bug.
This enchantment, however, does not come from travel. It comes from the way a person looks at the world–a special way of seeing things that most of us experience when we first step out of the comfort of our homes and leap headlong into the unknown.
We need not travel to gain this perspective. It’s simply curiosity. A willingness to learn. An openness to everything. If we can keep that perspective, then it doesn’t matter where we are, we will remain interested, attentive, and excited. But if it’s lost, then everything is lost. The world becomes drab, two-dimensional, and as stale as a b-grade sitcom.
A travel writer friend of mine recently told me about two wonderful travel books written by a french author. I forget his name. The first book was about everything that the author could see from his chair in his living room. In the sequel he gets really adventurous and walks to the window. My friend said that the books are incredible. That author had it figured out.
Some people travel. Some people don’t. That’s of no consequence. But listen to me now. This is the most important thing that I could tell you.
Never forget: there’s treasure everywhere.
12 thoughts on “There’s Treasure Everywhere”
Thanks man. I really wish I could make myself as open as I was too. There are always moments–great moments. But they’re fewer than before. Now that I understand the problem though, I think I can get back there.
I love Calvin and Hobbes! They have tons at one school where I work. I think I’m going to have to do a whole series of C&H inspired articles.
Wow, this is all really familiar to me. I’m very impressed that you lasted three years like! I travelled around the Western United States and had that same stupefied grin you speak of, and then I came to Korea. It’s hard to imagine now, but even though Korea’s ugly and uninspiring, I was just open enough to take it all in.
I still get that feeling when I travel, but as I get older it’s fading and have as powerful.
But you’re right… it’s not about the place, it’s the person. Absolutely. I just wish I could make myself as open as I once was.
This reminds me of a young man I met in Far North Queensland. He told me he was travelling around trying to find himself. I took him to the tourist map in town and told him he you stop searching. I pointed to the red dot that read’ “You are here.”
Ah ha ha ha. That’s awesome! You ever coming back to the far East Al?
So how do you feel now that you’ve realized this? Is the grin back, or has it been replaced by something different? Do you consciously remind yourself to be curious every day?
When I wrote this it was a bit of a turning point for me. I don’t think that I realized exactly what my problem had been until I wrote it. That happens to me a lot.
I don’t write what I think about–I write to find out what I think.
I do make a bit of an effort to be more aware of all the great things going on around me. Of course, I’m not the same as I used to be, but I think that’s a good thing. I’m not enamored with everything around me all the time, but I have my moments, and they come often enough. I think now I actually have a more balanced perception of things. That’s probably good, seeing as I want to make a living as a writer.
How are you enjoying Japan? Do you still have that silly grin?
I agree with you about writing to find out what you think. That’s what I’m trying to do in Japan.
I’m enjoying your blog. Thanks for your work.
Good to hear that I am not the only one with this change. I just don’t know how to get back to the same feeling when I enjoy every single things I see around me 🙁