Traveling has been what I like to call my LASIK surgery. It has giving me a new outlook and vision of life. It has taught me some invaluable life lessons. I’ve learned to look at the world outside of my perspective, my views, my beliefs, my lens and learned to look at the world through the lens God looked at it once he created it. Understanding that yes, it has its flaws and imperfections and yes, sometimes it’s a scary, unfamiliar and dangerous place , but also realizing and understanding all those things (flaws and all) adds to its appeal, mystery and wonderfulness.
When I first started traveling internationally in 2013, my first trip was to Punta Cana, Dominican Republic. I still remember the day, June 5, 2013. I remember being so excited to receive my passport, head to my first international destination and get my first stamp. I also remember people constantly telling me “Whatever you do, DO NOT leave the resort”. I wouldn’t be me if I listened. So although there was so much to do, see and eat on the resort, something about going beyond the “forbidden” community walls of the resort intrigued me.
So my best friend Shana and I decided after maybe a day or two on the resort to book a Dune Buggy excursion. We were informed that during this excursion we would be taking a 2 hour ride to another city and riding Dune Buggies through the local streets of Dominican Republic to a public neighborhood beach. This was exactly the experience I wanted. A guided excursion that would give me a little glimpse into the lives of how the locals live, but still not totally being naive and fully throwing myself into a potentially unsafe situation. It was the perfect balance.
I can literally close my eyes and still feel that feeling. That feeling of fear, but also faith and excitement. That feeling I felt when we rode the Dune Buggies through the streets interacting with the locals. Children walking home from school, waving to families sitting outside talking, driving through what seemed like an impoverished neighborhood, children playfully running behind the Buggies, trying to sell things and asking for money. The icing on the cake was when we arrived to the local beach it was full of so many locals, so much color, happiness, life, culture and beauty. These people who appeared to have so little seemed to have had something that no money could ever buy, happiness. I remember heading back to the resort after the excursion being on cloud 9. Feeling every feeling from happiness, gratefulness, thankfulness and a bit of sadness. That feeling I felt in that moment was what my life was missing. That feeling was what sparked something in me and opened my eyes.
I think one of the greatest things that happens when you begin to travel is as you travel to these new unknown places you begin to learn new and unknown things about yourself. With social media being really popular in today’s society we sometimes have this false sense of reality and tend to believe that everyone knows everyone and the world is super small, but in reality the world is vast and there’s so much to see, do, wonder, wander and explore.
“Sometimes you find yourself in the middle of nowhere and sometimes, in the middle of nowhere, you find yourself”. Traveling has opened my mind, heart and eyes on so many levels. It is very similar to someone who wears glasses or contacts to help with their vision. I realize before I started traveling I was living life without my glasses. I wasn’t functioning with the clearest vision and wasn’t seeing the world or myself clearly. My vision was blurry, unclear, unfocused and cloudy. So next time you’re having problems with your vision, don’t call your local Ophthalmologist or head to LensCrafters, instead call your local travel agent and book you a trip to an unknown, foreign country.
By: Rahiem Johnson