A few years ago, I was a frequent traveler to the South of France from London. On July 14, 2016, a terrorist drove a car into a crowded town square in Nice. I had dozens of people reach out to me, concerned that I was in Nice at the time. After the incident, a had a lot of people ask me if I planned to cancel future travel to Provence and the surrounding areas. My answer was a resounding “No.” I will continue to travel to France. In fact, I will continue to travel a lot of places people perhaps think I shouldn’t. That people perhaps think are dangerous. That people tell me I have no business going to on my own. To that I say: Thank you for your concern. The universe has my back. Please allow me to indulge in this travel reflection.
My family has been in Alabama since approximately the late 1790s, and most of them are still there. While I have relatives in a few other places: Georgia, Colorado, Arizona, the majority of my family remains in Alabama for generations. When I was a child, I dreamed of moving to New York City. I was raised in my early years in a small Southern Alabama town called Dothan, and when we would come to Birmingham, I thought it was the biggest city I had ever seen. When I first went to New York at age 13, I was in awe. I didn’t know how so much could be packed into such a small area.
I don’t know where the desire to travel, see and do came from. When I was a teenager, my grandmother said “What do I wanna go to Europe for? I’ve never wanted to go to Europe.” I was astonished. I dreamed of seeing every European country, of experiencing cultures older than American culture, of learning languages, and eating all kinds of food from every corner of the earth.
I always wanted more than just living where I had always lived. My mother sometimes accuses me of this making me uppity. Too good for Alabama. That’s not it. I just have always wanted to understand more about this great big world than what I have seen in the past.
When I moved to San Francisco for pharmacy school, my family was (for the most part) horrified. They could not believe that I was choosing to move that far away from home. That I would do something so different. I don’t know why, I always felt the astonishing desire to expand my surroundings.
On Perceived Danger
Since my travels started in my early teens, and really picked up in my early 20s, so many people ask me if I ever get nervous traveling. I can’t say that I never get nervous traveling: I was on a plane that almost went down in 2015. Not fun. I have rounded alleyways at 3 am to find throngs of 6’5″ men in Amsterdam. About-face. I have been on my own for weeks in foreign lands. I have been in groups of people who barely spoke English, where I was the only American, where I was the only white person, where I was the only woman, or the only person without her head covered.
In all of this, I choose to (mostly) ignore what most people see as danger. I have met so many amazing people throughout my travels, and I have lost the ability to see race, ethnicity, clothing, facial hair, religion, or even angry words as a threat. Don’t get me wrong, I do my very best to make good decision
What I have learned from all of this is that I choose to believe that people in this world are generally good. I choose to believe that we are all children of a powerful and loving universe, God, divine. I choose to see race, while accepting that we are all just variations on a theme in the eyes of God. I choose to acknowledge clothing as a representation of culture, and not as a threat to me.
Basically my travel reflection is to walk through this world with my eyes open. I share love and peace as often as possible. I pray that the love I give brings love back to me, and amplifies love all around the world.
How do you choose to share love with those around you?