So many times the fascination with “over there” consumes people. I’ve seen it over and over. I sat in a university classroom in Innsbruck, Austria listening to my daughter give a presentation in German about the American West and its portrayal in film. Her professor told me after class, that students there are fascinated with John Wayne and Dancing with Wolves and cowboys and indians and the whole mystique of the American West.
I’ll never forget checking into a quaint hotel in one of the little villages of Cinque Terre, Italy. While I was so excited to be on the Italian Riviera, I couldn’t help but notice the wide poster behind the bellhop’s desk that featured snow-capped mountain peaks with the word C-O-L-O-R-A-D-O, sprawled across the bottom. Here I was so excited to be in a new and exotic place and in the same moment realized that where I’d just come from was new and far-away exotic to them.
When I rode from Munich on a shuttle, I was awestruck at my first glimpse of the Alps. ”Oh, but no,” said the Austrian couple sitting next to me, “It’s the Rockies that are spectacular. Ahhh – you live near the Rockies. They’re so old and majestic.” Are they older, geologically speaking? I didn’t know this.
I thought the river that meanders through San Antonio, TX, was so pretty and the riverwalk so enticing. When I asked our waitress what the name of the river was, she shrugged like she could have cared less. She didn’t know. She’d never wondered. It was, after all, in her backyard.
I love to travel. I enjoy little more than seeing the world. I appreciate the culture and the beauty. But one of the best parts of travel, for me, is also coming back home. I really “see” my home for what it is, and how it is unique in its own way, because of the places I’ve been.
So, yes, it’s Earth Day today, and what I’m trying to convey is that the earth is full of beauty. Wherever you are. Wherever your home may be. Notice it. See it with new eyes like a traveler would. Notice the rivers and the mountains; the snow and the rain, the ocean and the trees. Appreciate the plains and the grasses. Revel in its simplicity or its complexity. Notice the birds and the bumble bees; the small children. Smell the rain and feel the wind. Wherever your little spot on earth is – don’t apologize for it. Really see it – and be grateful instead.