Becoming Citizens of the World: How Travel Transforms Us
It’s been around five and half years now since Amy and I left New York City for the world. We’ve since traveled to over 28 countries and have had more experiences to count, including some of the highest highs and lowest lows we never could have imagined. We are “away” almost full time, and although we sometimes miss our old home in New York, we wouldn’t give up this life.
We were making the world a more familiar place, connecting with everyone around us, indulging in new cultures and experiences, becoming citizens of the world.
I’m writing this as I sit in our friend’s apartment in Brooklyn. We’re back here to visit for a quick minute before we head off to our next destination: Belize. I would be lying without saying that the NYC nostalgia has set in since we’ve been back. Our old apartment sits on the Brooklyn waterfront, where we’re often throwing our traditional Tiki parties, spending summer days at Smorgasbord, riding bikes into the city over the Williamsburg Bridge, BBQs, rooftops, buzzing city lights, the New York vibrant energy and efficiency. There’s nothing quite like it. In some way, this New York ‘life’ will always be home, as well as our small little hometown of Ventura, California where Amy and I both grew up.
We are all connected – no matter the distance that separates us, no matter who we are, no matter living or dead. We are all lost but have the ability to tell our story through our connection with this world. Life is a stage in which we are all actors – we are infinitely discovering, learning and playing out our story. With the love of our souls and each other, we can create magic.
If anything, these experiences have given us perspective. We’ve chosen to lead a completely crazy, nontraditional life, and we’ve been fortunate that our little production company, Away Lands, has taken off like it has. We’ve shot films and photos for brands across the world, such as Hyatt Hotels, St. Regis, Sauza Tequila, and the list goes on. Through all of this, we’ve met so many people and developed countless friendships, to the point now that no matter where we are, we’re never far away from someone familiar.
And that was the unforeseen purpose… our transformation. We were making the world a more familiar place, connecting with everyone around us, indulging in new cultures and experiences, becoming citizens of the world.
With so much of the political rhetoric shouting just the opposite, e.g., building walls, driving people against each other, instilling fear in our world instead of care for humanity, Amy and I continue to believe there is no better time to do what we’re doing than now. And that’s what drives us and continues to inspire us – connecting with people around the world, and in so doing, finding that we truly are not so different after all.
A few months ago, we had the incredible opportunity of traveling to India, a place we were always intrigued by, but maybe slightly shied away from on our “wander list” as it was this wild crazy place full of so many unknowns – stories of crime and terrible bouts of food poisoning. There were so many places we wanted to see, but we found ourselves wondering- “Was this one worth it?”
When my college buddy invited us out for his wedding, it became a simple answer- we had to go. Attending a traditional Indian wedding had been on our list for a while. It looked like such a magical experience. We arrived in Delhi and were overwhelmed by the buzzing madness of the city. There was so much going on, so many people, so many ancient sites, foods, and aromas. It was sensory overload. After a few days running around Delhi, we traveled up to Dehradun, a much slower, quieter, beautiful little city nested at the foothills of the Himalayas.
We spent a few days meeting my friend’s family, dancing, and indulging in the food and traditional wedding culture. There were aunties and uncles and cousins that came from all over India, it was so amazing to hear all of their stories. Amy made a little friend at the wedding, one of the younger girl cousins. They spent the entire night dancing with each other, mouthing lyrics to American pop songs, and when the time came, the little girl was teaching Amy how to sing and dance to traditional Indian songs.
I met one of the uncles, who was a proud owner of a textiles business in India. He told me he was so honored to have Amy and I as guests from the United States, and asked where I would be staying once back in Delhi, so he could send gifts for us.
A week later, we were working on a film job for a hotel in Delhi, where Amy and I spent a week working with a marketing manager who we immediately connected with. It was as if we were all of a sudden back home hanging out with a good friend. Our souls immediately had this affinity; a striking familiarity and we had so much to share. She took us around Delhi and showed us her favorite places to eat, shop and hang. She was stylish, had great taste, and the strangest part was that a lot of the places we went to eat or hang out felt just like some of our favorite spots back in Brooklyn.
So much of what we have found with travel has been overwhelming and exciting, not unlike our recent trip to India. At the same time, there have been so many unforeseen challenges, from being detained by police, extorted, having our gear seized, passports and wallets have been stolen, and the list goes on. But we have been unrelenting as the experiences and interactions we have made with people across the world have been so incredibly rewarding. One of the most interesting realizations we’ve made along the way is that so many of the people we have met are so shockingly similar to ourselves, and that if you take the chance with travel, you will undoubtedly experience this beautiful connection with humanity and embrace the love of the world.
In contrast to video, there is this extraordinary ability to stop time with still photo and to capture the feeling and mood of a moment with incredible succinctness.
As soon as you are immersed, nature becomes a complete aesthetic experience.
Despite the language barrier of Berber to English, our groups from two such separate and different worlds were able to connect so deeply.