The best moments of my life began with a plane

March 25 2014

I started writing a post titled “The Best Moments of My Life Began With Getting on a Plane.”

I was thinking about my first memory of travel, the second I knew I had a lifelong relationship with foreign places. I was a young girl visiting my father’s family in Holland, and I was standing in the produce section of a local market with my aunt. The vivid green of the vegetables and the neat rows of roots picked from the ground were like nothing I had seen in the aisles of King Soopers in Longmont, Colorado. I couldn’t understand a word of what anyone was saying, and a poppy Dutch radio station competed for my attention. I was enthralled. Even as I stepped outside, the light seemed to cast vibrant shadows on the sidewalk.

A summer volunteering at a Thai orphanage. The kids’ humble generosity sends me home with a profound appreciation of resources and privilege. A year as a psychology student in New Zealand. Thrust into an entirely new education system and a beautiful landscape to explore, I learn more about responsibility and individuality as I turn 20 in the Southern Hemisphere. A research grant affording me the opportunity to backpack Europe. An ongoing affair with Manhattan — continually discovering more about myself and people dear to me. And, of course, Nepal.

Looking closely, these experiences aren’t about an aircraft. Their significance comes from a reunion with mystery and uncertainty. Seeing the universe with fresh eyes. It isn’t about a place. It’s about confidence and connection with strangers; empathy and compassion and duty as a world citizen.

You don’t need to buy a ticket to experience something amazing. You can step towards the unknown and take risks to connect with strangers in your world.