In first grade, my teacher asked us to bring in postcards from all the exotic places we’d been in our lives. My friends brought back little cards with photographs of beautiful beaches, tall towers, and vast canyons. I had nothing to show. Since then, I’ve always envisioned traveling as endless car rides to exciting destinations or planes landing on foreign soil. To be a traveler, I assumed one must have to exhibit the mastery of mazing through airports, visiting every state, country, and continent on the map. Little did I know, however, that true travel is more about the internal experience, rather than the destination.
For years, I woke up to the view of my feet dangling off my bed. I felt the pull of gravity urging my feet to touch the floor, but the resistance in my head was always far more powerful. I became paralyzed by my mind and trapped by the rush of thoughts circling through it. Each day I woke up to white wood framing surrounding me, and the closed door in the front of my room with a brass handle being the only barrier between me and the outside world. I felt more depressed each day I was greeted with that brass handle taunting me. I wanted so badly to wiggle the handle, but every inch of my body refused to leave my bed.
Soon, my bed wasn’t a bed anymore, it was a stretcher. My pajamas weren’t pajamas, but rather a gown sizes too big. My entire world fell under the spell of my mind, and I lost all control. Amidst lying there ready to surrender, what I couldn’t seem to forget was that curtain, aimlessly hanging, shutting me out from the rest of the world.
After weeks, the same view of the droopy curtain grew old — much like my white bed frame and brass door handle. That sagging piece of fabric was the entrance and exit to everyone except for me. I felt helpless watching the flow of traffic pass through that curtain, but being mentally incapable of passing through it myself. People were moving on, still collecting their postcards, and here I was still behind this curtain. I knew there was more in the world beyond that damn thing — I just didn’t know how to get there or what it even looked like. Only until I finally walked through that curtain and opened the brass handle could I see it for myself.
As I felt the curtain brush against my skin, I was greeted with the colorful world I’d been blinded from for so long. I discovered beautiful sights, had breathtaking moments, and days full of adventure. My feet brought me to places I never thought my mind would allow me to travel to. Soon, I realized that I was collecting my own postcards.
As part of traveling is the enticing experience of crossing borders and capturing beautiful sights, it’s also an internal experience that’s frequently overlooked. Whether it’s traveling to a foreign country to discover yourself or simply just walking outside, you have traveled. Had I never made the choice to get out of my bed and experience living life versus sleeping it away, I still wouldn’t have any postcards. Instead I took a risk, opened that door handle, walked through that curtain, and traveled into a new world I never knew existed.
Now every morning when I’m taunted by my brass door handle, I get up and turn it, ready for the travels that lie beyond the brass handle.
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