The Beauty In Contrast

“There is no quality in this world that is not what it is merely by contrast. Nothing exists in itself.” — Herman Melville

Upon committing to a year of global travel, I knew I’d get to see more of the world. But, I never anticipated I’d view the world I’d already seen differently. These days, grocery store trips involve shopping by pictures and colors. Haircuts involve giving a foreign barber full jurisdiction over my sex appeal. Massages intended for relaxation somehow involve straddling and aggressive slapping. This newfound unfamiliarity with things I once found familiar has become the norm.

I’ll never forget the exultation I recently felt upon completing a three-day trek to Machu Picchu. The sensation was less about the triumph of completion and more about knowing I’d soon have refuge from the pouring rain. It was less about seeing the ancient Incan city and more about knowing I’d reside in more than just a tent and sleeping bag that evening. It was less about crossing off a bucket list item and more about knowing I’d soon refuel on much-needed medication, food, water, and rest. The experience facilitated considerable discomfort, but the uniqueness and contrast afforded by it gifted me a much stronger appreciation for the simplicities I’ve often overlooked.

Despite the exhausting nature of always being on the move, I’ve found the contrast affiliated with extended travel to be a mechanism for rejuvenation. Never again will I take for granted the mundaneness of grocery shopping and the simplicity of communicating with a hair stylist or massage therapist. Never again will I underappreciate the consistency with which I feel healthy and well-rested. Never again will I undervalue the opportunity to cultivate enduring relationships with people I encounter. And when I do return from my travels, I find comfort in knowing, though everything may appear just as it was left, I’ll see things differently.

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