A Stone's Throw

practice your aim. you never know when you'll spy 2 birds at once.

Sunday, October 05, 2008

In Country

My trip through South America ended recently. After 17 security checks and thousands and thousands of miles, I stepped out of Laguardia International Airport, and into New York City.

There's something entirely strange and disconcerting upon arrival in your country after so long away. Some call it culture shock. I don't know what I'd call it, but it washes over you like a heavy wave, and everything, even breathing, seems different. You notice things you'd never notice on a weekend trip, or a two week vacation. You notice how people look at things. You hear a difference in car engines. You sense a difference in the reactions of people. Danger is different. Abruptness in dialogue is startling. Noises you've not heard in so long are perplexing. It's a very real combination of confusion, rediscovery, and intense reflection.

I've been traveling awhile now and each time I go on an extensive trip, I notice this feeling, this sense of rediscovery, both good and bad. What is great about a country becomes strikingly obvious, just as what's horrible becomes very clear. It's a sort of magnification of your surroundings.

And with that incredible change from one set of cultures to the next, I've found myself in a sort of hazy state - as if my mind and body are still processing the change, trying to make sense of it all, sorting it all out internally. It's a bit bizarre to describe, but anyone's who's ever done such a trip can relate to this. Perhaps if I describe it another way:

If you have kids, or nephews, nieces, etc, you see how when they go to sleep at night, they can sleep for hours and hours - 12 hours sometimes - and you, as an adult, wonder how that is possible. Sure, they're growing, but its more than that. Its also that they've experienced so much new that day - new words, new experiences, new ways of viewing the world. They're vessels of change and their minds are constantly developing ideas, and experiencing emotions, and reconstructing an image of the world. That constant state of growth, in mind and body, takes it toll until they are completely exhausted.

And that is like the traveler who's come home. Trying to process all the new images, the new experiences, the new ideas. And, in large part, reexamining an image of the world that has been forever changed.

- Caleb


Post a Comment

Subscribe to Post Comments [Atom]

<< Home