By: Ayesha Habib
“Broad, wholesome, charitable views of men and things can not be acquired by vegetating in one little corner of the earth all one’s lifetime.”
– Mark Twain
To yearn for an enriched life devoid of bigotry, close-mindedness, and intolerance is to yearn to travel. It is unavoidable to expand internally, in the mind and in the heart, when one peeks outside their realm of familiarity. Once you have traveled, you view the world in such an extraordinary way. Everywhere you go, you take a piece of that place with you when you leave. And every place you go after that, you view in the context of the places you have been. Like looking through a kaleidoscope of culture and country, you see the world in a different, ever-changing way everyday. The intermingling of the scenes, cultures, and experiences you are exposed to dissolve into each other so wonderfully within you, and you can feel yourself growing whole from it. You carry these places with you in your soul, comforted at the sound of their pieces clinking together with each step you take.
There is no better way to fully experience a place than to be completely alone in it. When you are alone, you are on full alert. Awake to every detail of the scene around you, you can breathe it in and out without interruption. Your senses work on overdrive to take in all that surrounds you. You notice things you normally wouldn’t and the slightest of details that leave the deepest of marks within you. Strangers become vibrant characters of novels yet to be written. Your surroundings become the perfect picture yet to be taken. The mundane becomes so vastly fascinating simply because of their foreignness to you. Inspiration comes without warning, and soon you find yourself being swept away by the workings of your own mind.
When you are alone in an unfamiliar place, you envelop yourself in your isolation until you feel a perfect loneliness. You drift amongst crowds and you can finally understand the weight of your own insignificance. You float like some ghostly apparition and watch the stories of those around you. You observe and savour the feeling of being invisible, even if it’s only for a moment.
When you think of home, there is a slight discomfort. You think how strange it will feel being back in a place that should be familiar when you have gotten used to being in the unfamiliar. You have gotten used to a movement and momentum both inward and outward, you wonder if it will all come to a sudden halt. You think of how much you’ve changed, and how your edges have grown wild like ivy. You imagine coming home will feel like putting on a shoe on the wrong foot. There would be something so mildly wrong about it. Just a slight disquiet in the back of your mind, wearing away at you.
When your thoughts turn inward, you think how quietly and subtly one can change. It happened without you realizing it had happened, and now you sit, mind racing trying to pinpoint the moment it happened, furious you had the audacity to do this without fair warning. But you understand change and growth is not comprised to a single moment. It is fluid, slow, and very, very subtle. It is the sort of thing that happens without you realizing, until you are completely submerged in the tide of your transformation and left wondering how the hell a dripping leak had turned into a sweeping flood.
About the author: Ayesha Habib is a student of International Relations at Simon Fraser University in Vancouver, British Columbia. Her passions include travelling, storytelling, and photography. She aspires to spend her days traveling the world and telling the stories of those she meets along the way.