by Nancy Bestor
Reading the world news on my computer every morning can be discouraging. I’m able to take my pick of stories about melting ice caps, famine, war, and destruction, to name just a few. It’s enough to make me feel like nothing is right in the world. But if I see the glass as half full, and look a little harder, I can also find stories about UPS truck drivers who give mini trucks to big fans, or nine-year-old Caine, who built a cardboard arcade in East L.A.. It’s stories like these that remind me that even in the midst of bad events, good things are happening in our world, and you can find joy in many different places.
It might be easy to look at other countries, particularly those more foreign to us, and think there’s nothing but hardship and sadness there. But I daresay the countries that we don’t readily understand are often the ones that have the most to offer us. It’s the places that I’ve known little about—Turkey, Vietnam, and even Thailand back in the day—that when I visited, moved me deeply. I’ll admit to being somewhat ignorant about the Islamic religion, but I can tell you I got teary when I heard the call to prayer outside the Blue Mosque in Istanbul. And it was after our trip to Thailand when we saw how happy Thai people could be with so few possessions that Bob and I came home and promptly put our house on the market. Learning about and visiting other cultures has made a lasting impression on my life, and I’m hoping on the lives of my daughters too.
Rick Steves writes in his book Travel As A Political Act that “the great value of travel is the opportunity to pry open your hometown blinders and bring home a broader perspective.”
I don’t know about you, but the older I get the more I realize I still have so much to learn, and I still have so many places in the world I want to visit. And if I can’t get out to a new place every day (or every month, or gasp, even every year), I’ll just have to look harder to find good stories in the news, because they’re out there, I know it.
Happy New Year, from me and my family, to you and yours. May you find beauty and joy everywhere you look in 2015.