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.