A Tourist, Traveling Alone in a Foreign Country
Years ago, while participating in a writing group, we students were asked to write about and share a metaphor that would describe our life. Some people shared common metaphors—such as a butterfly, or a seashell, or a diamond. For my metaphor, I chose “A Tourist, traveling alone in a foreign country.”
The person I chose to share this with looked at me quizzically, and then said, with utmost compassion, “I’m sorry you feel that way.”
To her, I realized, my choice of metaphor depicted a lonely and insecure life. I was initially taken aback, because I hadn’t come up with this metaphor as a way to garner pity, nor had I chosen it to portray perhaps a previously unspoken loneliness or even fear.
I knew I was lonely, and insecure. But I wasn’t upset about that part; after all, doesn’t that just come with the territory of being human? Don’t we all feel lonely and insecure much of the time?
Or, are there people who have always felt comfortable in their human skin? (Let me know if you’re one these people, I want to interview you!)
I tend to believe that if we are really honest with each other, we all experience some level of fear and insecurity about our lives. We all feel the stranger from time to time. How could we not? Unless we live an entirely sheltered life, there will always be times of discomfort caused by new situations and even new twists in familiar situations, too.
To me, feeling lonely and insecure is the given of human life, not the exception. Therefore, when I chose the metaphor of a tourist, I wasn’t even thinking about it from the perspective of these things.
I chose this metaphor, because life to me is a feast of curiosity.
Every day, if we keep our eyes and ears open, there is so much to learn, especially when we’re outside our comfort zones. We can’t get further out our comfort zones than putting ourselves in the center of human activity that we can’t understand or quite comprehend!
Probably this is why, when I do literally travel outside the country, I watch the rituals and traditions of other cultures with rapt attention. I sit at corner cafés, sipping coffee and watch people go about the business of simply living their lives. When I can’t understand the spoken language, I love trying to pick up body language. When trying to discern the story behind an individual, I also seek to see the individual behind the story. We learn the most about ourselves when we grow curious about others.
I chose this metaphor, because life is about growth.
I admit that I don’t always understand the languages of this planet, even the one I speak and write in. Like a tourist, I often misinterpret. I miscommunicate. I’m not always sure which direction I should go, or even if my particular direction is safe after dark. I feel, at turns, lost, in awe, overwhelmed, thrilled.
And here’s the thing: I’m okay with all of this. One could call it insecurity, but I see it as a growth opportunity. Besides, I don’t want to get comfortable. Too much comfort eventually leads to complacency, and a complacent life is a lonely life indeed.
I chose this metaphor to express my belief that every day is, or at least can be, a new adventure.
Why is it that only when we go on a trip do we fill up our days with adventure and exploration, yet when we’re at home, the days blur into a fog of repetition? Why not take each day as a fresh adventure to try on, to see this world, its people, and our many varied experiences through fresh eyes? When we view the upcoming day through the lens of adventure, we will naturally have greater stores of patience. We will find ourselves willing to pause for a conversation rather than just getting on our way. We are much more willing to try new things and explore new points of view.
The reason I feel like a tourist in a distant land is because I am. Well, we all are. We are all tourists, traveling in the Earth Realm, simply trying to find our way.
We are all tourists, traveling souls here but for a brief moment in time—a nanosecond in the cosmic calendar. The only thing that frightens a soul is a stagnant, adventure-free life.
Our common ancestral home is not the country we live in, but is the Soul Realm, where all of us souls travel from, and where all souls return to when our bodies die.
When in the Soul Realm, we have access to knowledge and information in whatever way we best wish to receive it. We also have access to all of our past lives, our gifts and our opportunities for growth. We can see in greater clarity and scope the role various people played in our life’s journey, as well as how we supported and encouraged the growth of others. Through this wider lens, we evolve and grow, and prepare ourselves for the next life, with its own unique set of opportunities.
It is the Earth Realm that provides these opportunities.
I stand by the likening of my life to that of a tourist in a foreign land. To our soul, of course, the Earth Realm is a foreign land, and the Earth Realm is simply where our souls have chosen to visit for a spell—not so that we can get comfortable here, and settle into routines and habits that keep us comfortable.
Our souls came for the lessons, for the growth, and for the many new adventures. I say we give our souls what they want.
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