“Stuff your eyes with wonder, live as if you’d drop dead in ten seconds. See the world. It’s more fantastic than any dream made or paid for in factories.”
There’s a special kind of wonder you feel at about age 21. It’s different from childhood wonder, when everything is new and playful, but limited somewhat by the restrictions of your parents. In your early 20’s, however, you’re out and about in the world, discovering your “adult power” for the first time. With no parents around – heck, you’re old enough to be a parent (barely) — the world is your oyster; this is your time to discover the limits of your potential. It’s time to try everything! In fact, it’s your obligation to! With a world of wonder at your finger tips, you now have the efficacy to access that wonderful world, wherever it may be hiding.
On spring break from our semester abroad in Paris, my 21-year-old friends Scott, Cinny, Denisia and I have been traveling around Spain for a week when we pull into the lovely country town of Ronda. Located about 65 miles west of the coastal city of Malaga, the Andalusian township of Ronda has a population of only 35,000 people. Ffor tourists like us, there’s a good deal to see in town, from the bullfighting stadium, to the Banos Araba (“Arabic Baths”) dating back to the 13th century, to the beautiful Moorish gardens at the Casa del Ray Moro. What’s drawn us to Ronda, however, is the town’s astonishing location. Perched high atop steep cliffs with a deep canyon dividing the city, Ronda is a picture postcard waiting to happen. As I stand on the cliffs of the old town, I can’t help but gape at the three gorgeous bridges spanning the gorge, the roar of a distant river wafting up from far, far below. Is this the most beautiful place in the world? Of course not, although the locals might say otherwise; beauty is so subjective anyway. Ronda IS indeed spectacular, but for me, it’s both the place and the moment in time that deliver the greatest significance. Here I am, so far from home, without a safety net, seeing a beautiful, secluded Spanish city. Who knew I would ever be allowed to visit a place like this, let alone a country where I don’t even speak the language? If I can journey successfully to a place like this, on the other side of the world, where else might I be able to visit? India, Japan, Thailand, Egypt! The world is wide open! There are no limits!
(Is it inevitable that we lose that feeling of wonder and infinite possibility as we grow older? Perhaps. It’s easy to get jaded over the years, especially after checking a few bucket list items off of our list. I’d argue, though, that it’s worth at least trying to keep that beginner-traveler’s mind! The next time you’re in a new and wonderful place, whether it’s in Timbuktu or the next town over, see if you can recall your young-adult innocence – your 21-year-old sense of wonder. No matter your age, your experience, or your place in life, you’re still infinitely fortunate to be healthy and wealthy enough to travel. The world is still your oyster if you can dream that big.)