Postcards From the Edge (of the world)

My apologies to Carrie Fisher. And to anyone who was (anxiously) awaiting an update to my blog. Uh … I’ve been busy? 🙂

I’m just back from my first trip to Australia. Tasmania was great. So was Sydney. I did the regular touristy things. I sent postcards. I oohed and ahhed over amazing sea caves and massive trees and a pig that drinks beer. I even petted and had my picture taken with a koala bear. But it was the insight I got on this trip that really deserves the spotlight.


Insight No. 1. There are some things that are the same, no matter where you go. Where you live. What you do. There will always be mean people. Kind people. Furry animals. And some form of a burrito. The scenery will always be different, of course, but the guts of a culture–or a person, for that matter–isn’t so different from yours. Or you. Or me. We’re all people and the same things that drive me (love, fear, desire, anger) are the same things that drive you, and the guy next to you, and that lady 5,000 miles to the left.

I wish more people understood that, but perhaps you can only begin to understand it (and I don’t fully understand it–not yet) the more you meet people who are presumptively different from you. It’s an interesting paradox when you think about it.

Insight No. 2: When I was a little girl, I had a picture of the Sydney Opera House pasted in my ‘travel adventure’ book. I never thought I would see it in person. It was on the other side of the world, and surely, I’d never, ever get there, right? And yet on Saturday, while taking a water taxi from Circular Quay to Manly Beach in Sydney, I happened to look up. To my left was the Opera House. Right there. It wasn’t a picture. No, it was the real thing, and I almost missed it. No one else seemed to be paying attention, but they were locals, so why should they? It was just the opera house to them. But to me, it was so much more.

In front of me was the thing that had typified my childhood belief that the world was too vast for me to grasp. (To be fair, when you’re nine, you really can’t grasp the world. But hey, I don’t know that you can do that at thirty-eight, either.) I realized in that quiet, rather small moment, that the world was as big as it was small. Here I was, on the edge of the world as I knew it, and it hadn’t taken rocket fuel to get there. Just a little gumption. And maybe a big dose of curiosity.

I came home with more than I’d left with, in the end. And it wasn’t all just tee-shirts and chocolate. (Though, um, there was a fair amount of that, too.)


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