How to Soar Outside Your Comfort Zone

New places make you see things differently because you’re seeing such different things: the senses awaken. There’s no better way to understand other people than by traveling. Partly all that growing happens because it’s hard to travel. I’m often swamped by sadness, nostalgia, and regret before a big trip, as if sensing the danger of voyaging forth — like risking a flirtation outside of a happy marriage. Even with a map, you get lost, unmoored. Maybe that’s what makes new travelers seem scary. They are people who’ve deliberately gone ahead and lost their bearings. I think there’s a fear among those who stay put, that these outlanders will take something or wreck what’s already in place. Maybe it’s a reasonable fear too, considering the Indigenous American experience with European settlers.

New cities and countries aren’t much like our normal life, and I think that it’s important, especially for a child, to occasionally go to places and do things that aren’t like normal life. When I think about my own education, I feel like it all happened outside of the classroom — it happened when we traveled. Our visits to the Middle East were indelible. The first time we went to Jordan, we stayed for several months and absolutely nothing there was like anything here (this was before the internet.) There was more smoke and fire in the food, the trees were silvery, the air was white and tasted of white thyme, sesame, and sumac. When I returned to school in America, aged eight, I felt altered.

Somehow, very quickly, the world had become larger, more interesting and dangerous and lively.