Saturday, January 16, 2010

Adventure without travel

I was never the adventurous sorts, particularly when I was younger. Growing up in a small Wisconsin town, it was easy to get lost in the world right outside my patio door. When I was very small I did entertain the occasional world travel fantasy. I would sit cross-legged on my living room floor, holding a bowl of buttered rice, eating it daintily with a small fork. In my mind, however, I was in a wooden, stilted house in rural Japan sitting on a thin mat using chopsticks with the greatest of ease.

Outside of my imagination, I never seriously planned on going anywhere. I considered that one day I might find myself in a small African village or on a safari in the Amazon. These were just passing thoughts--like getting married or graduating college--possibilities the future held, but nothing I could truly wrap my young mind around. My whole life lay in front of me, perfectly planned. I would go to middle school, high school, and eventually college. Anything beyond that, I couldn't see.

Senior year of college, my perfectly planned life was rapidly approaching my unforeseen future. My friend Amy was studying overseas in Ireland, which fascinated me, though I didn't have the courage to picture myself in her position--that is, until I went to visit her myself.

The lead up to the trip was filled with anticipation and anxiety. Amy said the girls in Ireland dressed fashionably, would I fit in? Would the locals notice my American accent? How would we find the way from the airport to Amy's apartment? A million questions swirled through my head, as I'm sure they do in most first time travelers. Going to another country can seem overwhelming and threatening, though I found almost all my fears unwarranted. The trip, though not without its difficulties, was amazing and eye-opening. I realized that trying something new doesn't have to be scary and horrible; it can actually be interesting and fun.

Of course, trying something new does not equate traveling to strange and exotic places like Ireland (although it often does for me). Traveling, especially to foreign countries, is not for everyone. It can be stressful, uncomfortable, and strange. It also requires a certain amount of time and money. But just because one doesn't have the desire or means to travel, doesn't mean she can't try other unfamiliar things.

Therefore, I'm going to take this opportunity to try new things that don't involve travel. Here I am, back in my cushy U.S. life, with relatively little to write about and not too much pushing me out of my comfort zone. In the next month, I will attempt one new thing a day and report back about it. First on the agenda, which I successfully completed yesterday, filleting a fish.

No comments: