Essays, Projects, Reflections, Travel
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Letters on Tuesdays – Seeing the World

Dear Wilton,

We have been very privileged. Remember to thank mom and dad. Our parents never really stopped us from exploring the world around us, though sometimes it definitely made them uncomfortable. They were not passive either. Indeed, you can recall the numerous times that they took us on vacations to different countries in an effort to broaden our worldview and our horizons.

Travelling and seeing the world take on different meanings as you grow older. As a kid, I was fascinated by the physical differences of all the places we went. Every place looked different and felt different. Some, like Singapore, was hot and humid. Others, like Thailand, was more rural and resort-like. Still others, like Japan, was highly technologically advanced. I was focused, always, on the present moment and present location. Slowly, however, I began to become more interested in the fabric that makes each place unique: history, environment, people, culture, etc.

Perhaps the change was driven by my own interests in history and biology, further developed by my pursuit of an anthropology minor in college and then later, a masters degree in social sciences. There is not a single right way to travel and see the world but, to me, I believe the more holistic a view of a place, the more you learn and enjoy.

Dad used to travel differently, though he falls into his old habits. Every place we went to, he would have a full itinerary. He hustled our family to every possible point of interest in as efficient an amount of time possible. What he didn’t realize is, for us, it made travelling a task instead of something to enjoy. It also made it difficult for your sisters and I to develop strong memories of a place. Most of my memories of our family vacations are faded, recalled only in old photographs. My favorite family travel memories from those days are of the times when your sisters and I got to play around and relax, like playing on the beach in Phuket or crying after Space Mountain in Tokyo.

We definitely changed that. You might recalled the easy way we experienced Yellowstone as a family in 2014, when we really took our time to explore and to learn about the park and its surrounding areas and towns. We biked along a creek and had ice-cream, literally all the time. There were still times when dad was on edge about how little we seemed to be doing, but this style of leisure definitely suited mom, your sisters, and me better.

We are too hard on him. Everyone approaches travel differently. Who knows, maybe you actually prefer dad’s method. To him, travel is like stamp-collecting (one of his hobbies as a kid, if you didn’t know). Dad wants to see as many points of interest as possible and collecting as many sights as he can. That is an admirable endeavor. This type of travel is definitely become more prevalent, with the rise of technology like Yelp, Foursquare, and Instagram. In some ways, checking-in has become the equivalent of dad’s see-everything-as-efficiently-as-possible. Travel becomes itemized into achievements, which can be amazing as it brings you the focus and goal to see the world. Again, different methods.

You know this by now: there is a lot of the world to see. In the end, you have to decide how to see it and that in turns determines the meanings of your travels.

With Love,

Your Brother

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