How travel is making me a better person

(POST EN ESPAÑOL –> LEER AQUÍ.)

I grumble a lot. I’m an old short fat man trapped inside the body of a (less and less) young woman. I’m the kind of person who rushes in the street dodging people who walk slow and silently cursing them for obstructing my way, and I’m the kind of person who, upon seeing a couple kissing or just somehow showing off their love in their marshmallow world, stares sideways with disgust in her face. Or at least I was up until now.

The other day, on a Friday evening after work, I decided to take a long walk to nowhere in Barcelona and take the chance to do some exercise after hours of sitting in front of the computer in the office. And before I knew it, I was contemplating those brief, spontaneous moments in life, people’s expressions, a serious and tired face, an honest smile… and I saw a couple whispering to each other in the ear and laughing, but you know what? This time I smiled.

I saw a woman in a wheelchair chatting to some other people in the terrace of a café, telling her friend that “you have to enjoy life”, I saw an old lady stepping out of her doorway in Passeig de Gràcia to walk her noisy, little dog, which wouldn’t stop happily hopping and barking out of excitement because he was being taken out, and I saw a group of three girlfriends who were enjoying their visit to Barcelona and probably living a moment that will remain in their memory for life. By the way, at that moment I was also the person who was walking slow and being swiftly passed by others.

But things didn’t stop there. I wasn’t just looking on the bright side of life, I felt compelled to act on it and actually tell people in the street what I liked about them. I saw a girl wearing an awesome red leather jacket and I was very close to telling her I loved her jacket and asking her where she had bought it, and I also saw an Indian girl with gorgeous long black hair in two thick braids and felt the need to tell her she had a beautiful hair, which is weird because I’m normally green with envy whenever I see a girl (or even worse, a guy) with “Pantene hair”, since mine sucks balls. However, I didn’t do any of those things because people would have probably thought I’m mental. Honestly, I don’t know what I would think if someone approached me out of nowhere to tell me they love my eyebrows, for example. I’d probably think they’re mocking me or filming some kind of prank show.

In any case, it is uplifting to see how I’ve been inadvertently capable of getting rid of all that negativity and actually feel happy about beautiful things other people have that I don’t. And you might be thinking: okay lady, but what does all that have to do with travel?

Well, for starters, the simple fact of traveling opens your eyes and mind, it makes you tolerant and respectful of others’ opinions and ways of life, it teaches you to avoid making judgments and that you still have so much to learn and, therefore, makes you a humbler person.

However, I don’t think this change in attitude is (entirely) due to travel per se, I think it also has to do with the fact of feeling fulfilled in life or at least knowing that you are headed the way your heart wants to go in this moment of your life. For me that’s related to travel (at least for now), but for others it may be more about advancing in their professional career, learning a new skill or moving to an apartment on their own (good luck for those trying to do that in Barcelona, though…). Waking up every morning with a purpose, working to accomplish something day by day infuses energy and the feeling that you can get anywhere you want, figuratively speaking. And I think that feeling is something we should all pursue, because it really does make you a better person when you emanate positivity rather than bitterness.

Hell, am I even typing this? If someone had showed me this post a year ago and told me “this is you in a year”, I would probably have laughed in their face. But here I am. And here is this hippy-happy post about peace and love. Amen, brothers and sisters.

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