Saturday, October 31, 2009

Traveling as an Inward Journey

I love to travel and was always drawn to experiences new things. As a child, I had a map of the United States on the wall at the foot of my bed. I would study it and memorize the capitals and states. I wanted to visit all the states and was so happy when I could count up more than the two states PA and NJ as states I had visited.

I like to travel far away, to exotic places. Despite the inconvenience of long flights, or the fear of being so far from home, I am always ready to go some place new. The jet lag and hassle of arrangements are worth it. Once I leave my comfort zone and start the journey, I am ready to face the unknown- another culture, another place. I will learn from the travel challenges about the places I am visiting and about myself as well.

Someone once asked me why I travel. What's the point? This person never goes anywhere new. He stays home. In the Torah, God tells Abraham to "Go Forth." Rashi, the medieval Torah commentator, points out that these words literally mean "go to you." He understands this to mean that God is telling Abraham to go forward for his own good, to delve into himself. Go on a physical journey and find your true self- who you should be- in an inner journey at the same time.

Maybe being away from my familiar surroundings and culture frees me to learn more about myself than I normally would. I will be doing things I would normally not do- like riding in a helicopter, or going on a glacier, or climbing a mountain. I will be negotiating travel experiences and challenges. I will be meeting new people and seeing new things. I can see things differently and understand who I am more clearly. I am renewed. I discover this self-knowledge in an unfamiliar setting, coming home changed by my experiences.

I would like to thank Rabbi Danielle Stillman, Hillel advisor at Ursinus College for her insights into Lech Lecha from the Torah Portion in the Jewish Exponent, 10/29/09.

From top: Yellow Sky, mixed media and Yellow and Blue, mixed media, use vibrant hues and earthy textures, incorporating the mystery of memory and the magic of place. They express my reaction to travel and show how the journey from physical places to places in my being have been changed forever.

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