Expanding horizons aids in understanding

Published 9:32 pm Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Flying from Washington DC to California to the Grand Canyon and back, a Suffolk pilot, Zach Laser, and his friend, Ryan Taylor, just wrapped up a 3-week trip around the United States.

Nearly an hour passed in our conversation after their return home, and I didn’t even worry about my next deadline.

Talking to them was enlightening and exciting.

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It’d be a bit of an overstatement to say it took me back to another time, considering 23 years is hardly enough time to be in any of a different time, but it did something to that effect.

I’m hardly a world traveler, but I managed to travel to South America, drive all the way across the United States and wind my way through Spain.

I’ve also put down some roots in three communities in my life span.

Listening to Zach, I realized a golden nugget in his story. It’s one that I felt the effects of, but hadn’t ever clearly identified until my conversations with Zach.

Traveling can be a very selfish endeavor, but it isn’t always just about reaching a destination and seeing new things.

Traveling can bring insight and understanding of different people from different cultures, and an affect of that is it provides insight into your own culture.

It’s often recognized that when we’re in the middle of a situation it’s often necessary to get an outside point of view. The profession of outside consulting is built on the principle.

We rarely think of viewing our own community in such terms, even after being entrenched in it for so long.

Traveling, I think, has helped me better understand where I came from and where I am.

The affect of that is that helps me understand my community — both present and past — the problems in it, what possible solutions might be, how it compares to others, what potential it has and most importantly a greater appreciation.

Never in my life would I have thought I was appreciative of hot dogs and the word “y’all,” but I thought I was going to cry when I made it to a barbecue the day I got back to Virginia for spending my summer in Spain.

Zach and Ryan hope their trip inspires others to expand their horizons.

For good reason, it ought to.

Not just because of where it takes you physically, but for what you see when you get back.