I’ve been thinking quite a bit lately about my world view and had lots of flight time recently to write some of my thoughts and share a story that was pivotal in altering my views.
Living a smaller life provides a blanket of comfort and security…... though it typically is a false security. Living a smaller life also allows us to ‘live on remote control’, as we become so familiar with our daily routines.
Fear of the unknown and familiarity thus often shapes the framework of our lives. Even when living fearless and boldly would open up an endless array of possibilities.
Recently I journeyed to Istanbul for work and London to visit family. I have enjoyed the wonders of Turkey and traveled there on 4 separate occasions.
Yet, my mother cried each time and worried about my travels, because the news stations she listens to are filled with the turmoil and violence in that region of the world. She believes that Americans are hated overseas, particularly by Muslims.
The news depicts areas around the world as places and people to fear. Fear attracts audiences and sells newspapers. Generalities are the soundbites of today’s news.
I'm not suggesting that the turmoil is not real, but I choose to not live my life in fear. I also know first hand, that the news is a very limited and incomplete view.
Chicago news also is focused on murders and crime, yet the news does not reflect the world I daily live in. And yes, my mother daily worries about my living in such a “violent city”, and she daily worries about her grand daughter, my daughter, living so far away in the bustling city of London.
I understand my mother’s fears and worries are truly expressions of her love.
And yet my experiences through travel have been among the most enlightening and enjoyable times in life! My world view is a direct result of travels and meeting people from around the world.
My own expression of love has grown to extend beyond my country’s borders. I choose to expand my circle of love and to touch more lives with my love and to feel the touch of others’ love in return.
I am grateful to the Turkish people I met on my first trip to the Aegean Coast who forever changed my worldview...................and now for the story:
My ex husband was a presenter at a NATO conference 20 years ago. As I mentioned, my mother cried, and that first trip to Turkey, I too had fears. According to the news in the US, all Muslims hated Americans and Muslims were likely ‘terrorists’.
I wondered why they invited Americans to be speakers if we were so hated, and my curiosity and the chance for such an exotic trip compelled me more than fear.
A bit of a side note is that we had been saving for quite some time to buy a dining room table and chairs for our empty dining room. My idea was to start over with saving for the dining set and spend the saved money on my airfare and some spending money for the trip to Turkey. It was money that was well spent!
Upon arrival at the Istanbul airport, my fears intensified when we departed the plane and first encountered the hundreds of people “shouting” in Turkish and waving their arms frantically and holding signs, initially seeming to us to be picketing or rioting in the airport. We also noted the security guards with guns standing strategically throughout the airport, which heightened, rather than lessened our anxiety.
We commented softly to each other to stay calm and maybe they wouldn’t realize we were Americans. We wondered if they knew some Americans were coming and were telling us to ‘go home’? We were truly frightened to be in the middle of such tension, not understanding the language and having no idea what would come next.
What did come next, was a business-suited gentleman holding up a sign that had our name clearly displayed. He spoke heavily accented, but understandable English, and welcomed us.
Hmmmmm, he didn't seem much like a terrorist. We followed him.
Though we still felt nervous as we entered a car with this stranger, it appeared to be our best option in a foreign place at nearly midnight, with a “protest” in progress at the airport.
After a few minutes of silence, I ventured to cautiously ask about the “situation at the airport”, and at first our driver seemed confused by my question. So I continued to rephrase and reword my questions as politely and simply as I could. We eventually understood each other.
It was explained that what appeared to be a “protest or riot” was merely expressive people shouting out names and greetings to their loved ones arriving on the plane. Our driver laughed a bit at our worries about a riot or protest. Also, the gentleman driver took us to our accommodations, pointed out some of the sites along the way and helped us with our luggage. We were professionally and hospitably taken care of from the moment we met him.
This was the first of many misunderstandings from that first visit. Time and again, we realized just how similar the Turkish people were to us.
I have come to know the Turkish people as warm, hospitable, intelligent, hard working, entrepreneurial and very principled. They take great pride in their country and proudly share their culture with others. Their values are much the same as mine, and they have very strong family ties. They are also fun and love for everyone to have a good time.
If you are someone who already travels abroad and notes the busy airports and thousands of travelers that do travel, you might be surprised by the following statistic:
Fewer than half of Americans even have a passport to travel abroad. 46% is the official statistic as of Jan 2014, according to State Department.
If you are among those without a passport or you have not traveled recently, choose to live boldly and share yourself and your family with others around the world.
Make a plan, and act on it…….. amazing adventures and interesting cultures await you!
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