Travel Makes the Big Smaller

When I was a kid, I used to skateboard from
Corona del Mar to Balboa Island to go fishing. That trip seemed like it took a lifetime to complete. Sure, the fact
that I had to propel myself via foot to road energy was a factor is making the trip seem long, but there was something
else about my life at that time that made the world seem so big. This was my little universe, these small beach towns.
They were all I knew. And so like a pre-Columbian citizen, I didn’t tihnk much of the world beyond. Where I was seemed
big enough.

Well, now that I’m back in Cali for a few days, I went back to visit my old home in CDM and then made the trip to
Balboa on bike. I was amazed how fast the trip went by. It was like heading uptown from my apartment in the Village.
And yet, back in those days, making that trip felt like crossing the state.

I was thinking about this today and I realized that part of the reason that these once big places now seem so small is
because I am a traveler. Travel, Mark Twain said, is fatal to prejudice, bigotry, and narrow-mindedness. Indeed it is.
Travel opens you up to vast new realms of human existence, it broadens your view of everything, it virtually explodes
your notions of daily life – yours and others.

And this is all good. I sat talking to a friend on Balboa Island who doesn’t travel much, and he was explaining why he
felt there was no need for him to travel much. He made good money, had a lovely house, and everything he needed was
within a mile or less of his home. I tried my best to make the case that his view of things would benefit from seeing
how other people live, how travel would positively affect his outlook on life. He didn’t buy it, and I feel sorry for

As for me, it doesn’t lessen my appreciation of where I grew up to have known many other places since. It makes these
big places seem smaller, all right, but because of all my travels, I feel like a global citizen. I feel like I can call
not just these small places, but the entire world my home. And that’s a cool feeling.