Who of us has not struck out on his own, into the larger world, to explore, experience and learn? Who of us has not then found her way back home, and experienced the unforeseen joy of being back in familiar surroundings, back in their comfort zone, back to where they know who they are, and where their hearts are?
I’ve found that the rewards I receive from traveling always differ from the reasons I travel in the first place. I don’t travel to better understand my place in the world, or to better understand the many differences between us and other cultures, or to be reminded of how great our lives here in America are… but that’s what I get. That’s what I come home with, almost every time.
I came home from a week in Amsterdam/Paris in ’76. That time I was not so happy to be home. Language was no problem in Amsterdam, or Paris, for that matter. I had visited the Van Gogh Museum, the Concertgebouw, Saint Stephen’s fantastic church, the cheeses of Edam and a great trip up to a small town on the North Sea. I flew back into Atlanta and immediately felt a lack of culture, art and sensitivity to each other. I slipped back into my music community in Atlanta and all was well, but I had experienced something different… perhaps better.
This time though, some 37 years later, I came back from a month-long trip through Europe with a most refreshing new feeling about America, Americans and what we have to be grateful for. Aside from a few minor flaws, such as our government going to hell in a hand basket, such as big oil, big farming and big coal, all driven by rampant greed, attempting to kill us with lies and poisonous pollutions of every sort… it’s one hell of a good place to live.
Europe is madly overcrowded, far worse than we.
The European countries are all bigger than I thought they were, and take longer to drive across.
Between Chamonix, France and Praiano, Italy, there is no place to park.
The cultural differences between countries is obvious, immediately.
Language is not a barrier in any of the countries, but road signs are.
Beer, cheese, wine, pasta sauces and olives are usually at least 3 times better there. And it ain’t the ambiance, folks…
Compared to Europe, I feel we, as a country, are very young and robust, naive yet overconfident, in too much of a hurry to do “important” stuff, terribly preoccupied with thinking (erroneously) that we’re the greatest country in the world… since when did power translate into greatness? And are we *really* the most powerful country, anyway? We’re frighteningly aggressive in our overconfidence, and we’re a vast, empty desert of art and philosophy. Have I even scratched the surface yet? No. And no need to, here. Even though the Customs guy at LAX gave me a most sarcastic “Welcome home,” still I’m delighted to be home, and feel most welcome. This is a wonderful country to live in, and B and I are most grateful to have grown up here and lived here, and to still be a part of it all.
That’s what I think. The video is what I feel.
https://vimeo.com/75335709 Steve Hulse