One of my biggest wishes every since I was little was to sort of jump into people’s bodies and live like them — live their life, as it is, as it feels to them, for a brief period of time. I didn’t want it to experience it as myself, to just become and exchange student or something that would allow me to catch a glimpse because then I would still experience it as myself, with my own life, which would make me feel like an alien. I wanted to become them, briefly, but still keeping my notion as self. A la Quantum Leap. Be myself, while also being someone else.
It’s not really that I wanted someone else’s life, I didn’t. If that was the case, I would’ve escaped in my own mind and created a fantasy world (which I also did, several times, since I do have a bit of a case of maladaptive daydreaming, but that’s another story). I didn’t want to continue living as another human being, I wanted to live like everyone, getting a bit of taste of their own uniqueness. I wanted to experiment different types of lives, I wanted to understand and be amazed by all the faces of human nature. Quite an anthropological view.
Growing up, I’ve shaken these dreams away, but my desire to know, to experiment, remained the same. It doesn’t have to remain some child fantasy if I apply a bit of reality to it. So I guess I’ll consider myself lucky that I was born in a time when I can access the means to make it happen.
I read in a book about emotions that Freud once said to someone that a human being can be considered an adult if he’s or she is capable of two thing: to work and to love. Without touching the second half of that statement, by the first standards, ever since I’ve starting getting a paycheck, my first thoughts about what to do with the money went to traveling.
It’s not just sightseeing and it’s not just relaxation. People, by nature, tend to seek confirmation and to surround themselves with like-minded individuals to confirm their biases and create some sort of invisible, emotional shield against the rest who threaten certain aspects of their lives. It’s about broadening your horizons.
When seeing how other people live, sometimes completely different cultures, you learn to accept that your way of doing things, the traditions of your own community isn’t the ‘normal way of living’, but just one of the hundreds, maybe thousands of different ways.
Nowadays, a country or a region doesn’t really represent a homogeneous culture, but our tendency is to find in that region people with similar interests, thus creating your own small world. It’s only by traveling (and reading, but that’s another topic) that you come in close contact with completely different mind sets. And you don’t really need to go out and start talking to every living creature you find on the streets of the place you’re visiting. It’s in the way the dress, in the way they eat, the way they great each other when meeting, how they walk and in the face expression of those who are going about their daily activities.
When you observe those around you, your curiosity is ignited and you find yourself wanting more. You start reading about their culture, their history, their current events and maybe, just maybe, you then start accepting your own neighbor who you’ve always found ‘weird’ as just being different, by in no way less than you.
Travel. Read, if you can’t afford it (not mutually exclusive). Watch different pieces of pop culture, feed your mind, enrich your soul. It’s probably the best thing you can do for yourself and those around you.
Expand your horizon.