In for a Penny, In for a Pound
"Don't you ever miss home?!" I can't tell you how many times I've heard that question. Friends, family, or just plain strangers have asked it and it never ceases to amaze me. Of course I miss Toronto. What can you say about a country like Canada? Socialized health care and education, a strong economy, resource rich with a low population, and containing about 80% of all the fresh water in the world. Want to know what the big dilemma is for the Canadian government right now? What to do with all that money? This on top of the fact that it's where I'm from and most of the people I know and love are there.
But there's something about travel...
My name is Jason Pittelli and when I left home for the first time 9 years ago and dropped out of university (eventually going back to finish the degree) I had little more than a passport, backpack, and big ideas. Now, almost a decade later I've started my own tour operations company based in Rome, Italy (love4adventure.com), have visited 40 countries on 6 different continents and traveled over 100,000km (60,000miles).
Book educations are fantastic, but there's something that travel can give you that no classroom can ever replace. Adventure and discovery are the fuel that drives humanity ever forward, or at least that's what keeps this traveler going. If it's true that acts of hatred stem from ignorance then could one also logically assume that education (in all forms) could potentially break down cultural barriers?
The world, it seems, is FULL of potential and possibility and our educations systems strike me as having an agenda of simply pumping out degrees instead of cultivating innovation; infusing minds as opposed to starting fires; complacency as opposed to originality.
Humanity is at a crux. Future historians will look back on our time now and what will they see? They'll remember this generation as the one that either made or broke the species. Hitler and Pol Pot existed side by side with Mother Teresa and Ghandi, and greatness coincided with the status quo.
I disagree with those who say that "the more things change the more they stay the same". Nonsense. When was the last time that 80% of the world's armies were staffed by children, that 50% of the world's population didn't have access to clean water, or that global warming will destroy us if we can't stop it? When was the last time we were ever this self-aware? When was the last time our capacity to heal was as great as our capacity to hurt?
These are just some of the things I've learned or observed while traveling...and the lessons don't stop there. If Walt Whitman was correct and the "true point of education is not learning, but action" then observation without application would indeed be a waste...at least in my eyes. Goethe, the brilliant German poet seems to echo the same sentiment when he argues that "when one fully commits oneself, then providence moves too." Sadly, the great (late) Marshall McLuhan, media expert, also observed that we are currently living in an age of "the psychiatrists couch" referring to the fact that in our current societies, especially the richer countries of the west, that passivity is more appealing that activity.
Mediocrity is, in its own venomous way, the mother of all evil, for the opposite of love is not hate, but rather indifference. Strap yourself to the mast if you must, and play Ulysses to the siren call of the sheep mentality! For the world cannot afford to lose, humanity cannot afford to lose!
Travel to me IS the antipathy of mediocrity. It is a slap in the face to indifference. It is one of the highest expressions of love. When you travel you make a conscious CHOICE to NOT sit idly by, but rather to learn and live. You make a clear cut, black or white decision to give up your life, if only for a while, and extend yourself beyond yourself. You go where you know not. Your comfort zone becomes a thing of the past as you move forward into something unknown. Often uncomfortable and sometimes daunting, but as the caterpillar is to a butterfly so is the individual who chooses to travel.
You don't travel, you become travel. It's not something you do, it's something you are. It changes who you are...and you never go back to being the same. How could you? Why would you?
The world is a book, and to not travel is to read but a page.
- St. Augustine.
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