Monday, May 18, 2009

Trying New Things

Growing up in a small town in southeast Arkansas life was pretty simple. There were no malls, no fancy restaurants, or any restaurants for that matter. We didn't even have a McDonalds or Sonic. There was a theater for a brief time, twice, but it never lasted long. There were no water parks, city parks, dog parks, or even Cherokee Parks. As kids we played outside and used our imagination. As older kids we still played outside, but we used Chevy's and Fords instead. There were no places to party other than maybe a muddy bean field. On Friday nights we drove in circles around the town square. What I am trying to say is I led a sheltered life.

Going to college changes a few things. I went to school in a town much larger than my home town, but it was still relatively small. There were some fun things to do. Our world revolved around the fraternity house. Of course any discussion of trying new things in college is destined for out of bounds. That is not where I am heading with this post.

I am talking about experiencing the world and what it has to offer. In 2001 I started my current job. My first assignment was to go and help with the start up of a power plant in Rossano, Italy. On my first visit I stayed there for six weeks straight. This little village on the Mediterranean was far from the tourist centers of Italy. Maybe five people in the entire town spoke English. I only met two that I can remember. One was a police officer who greeted us with "Why are you here?" The other was a bank employee that spoke English well enough to say "We don't take travellers checks."


View Larger Map

Imagine a small town farm boy out of the United States for the first time. I had never been farther than Florida. Otherwise my travels usually were to either Dallas or St. Louis. I didn't know much about anything. I truly believe that this trip changed my life.

Before going to Italy I thought the way I did things was the only way. Any other way must be wrong. The people of Italy did things so differently that it was a complete culture shock. In a daring manner I decided to jump right in especially in the cuisine department. If my little book of translations didn't cover a menu item, then I just ordered it to find out what it was. This led me to eating an entire dinner of only mussels, grilled cuttlefish, and other delights. Eventually I made friends with the restaurant owner and he served me a special of his choosing every night. It was the best food I have ever eaten.

From this I learned that I love mussels, clams, calamari, any type of fish in general, and so many other things. I absolutely loved the assortments of antipasta. This trying new things should not be all about food. It should be about life in general.

I started travelling more to see the U.S. Since then I have been to New York, Chicago, and Boston on personal vacations. Seeing the big cities and how you city folk live is quite a thrill. Of course on business trips I have seen many other countries as well. The true joy of travelling on business, other than it being free, is seeing how the locals live on a day to day basis. If you get away from the tourist traps you can really get a picture of what life is like for regular people in the places you visit. It can be such a learning experience.

This is where my son comes in to the picture. I want Braden to be able to enjoy as many different things as possible. His life will be much different than mine right from the beginning. We live in a town with hundreds of restaurants. We have several parks. We even have a two Wal-Marts which you know I love. The opportunities for him here are abundant.

I don't want him to think the rest of the world is like our little home. He should learn about other places and other cultures. I hope he has the opportunity to see the world. I hope he will experience life with open eyes and an open mind. There is so much to experience and learn if you are ready and willing to try.

12 comments:

Melisa with one S said...

It's great that you had such an open mind and allowed yourself to be immersed in something totally new and different!

So many people who were raised in one place (country OR city!) have a closed mind when it comes to change, even if it's temporary.

Great post!

Momo Fali said...

I feel the same way. If money was no object, I think we would be permanent travelers! I would love to show my kids the world.

Russ said...

Traveling is great. I love learning about new and different places.

GreenJello said...

Fantastic post! I feel the same way you do. I live in an insulated *state*, even though we are doing the city life thing.

I wish I had the kind of money to be able to travel the world with the kids. You do what you can, though, to broaden their horizons.

surprised mom said...

Wonderful post! I hope Braden does get the chance to travel the world. I got the traveling itch late, after traveling to Ireland last year. It was my first time in an airplane, first time in a foreign country, first passport, etc. I want to go back and show the girls. I want them to see and experience new things. Hopefully we'll see and experience things together.

WeaselMomma said...

Those extended overseas business trips while single would have been sweet. I'm glad you made the most of them.

Rob said...

Sounds like you have learned alot from your travels which is awesome.

Jen said...

that is really, really cool! I so want to go to Italy some day. I hope that your son does become a very seasoned traveler.

Mocha Dad said...

I've been able to travel to several countries with my job. Unfortunately, I have been unable to bring the family. As the kids get older, I want them to experience the world as I have. We have already made a goal to visit every state in the country.

Out-Numbered said...

Anytime you're in NYC, the beers are on me my friend! Nice insight...

mannequin said...

What a nice morning read. Thank you!
I agree, I think one of the most important gifts one can give their child is exposure to anything and everything , albeit in a protective manner at times.
I pretty much lived within a 30 mile radius until I went to college also. Then moving to Manhattan, I was horrified. I don't want my child to be horrified at differences.

PJ Mullen said...

I'd probably start with Italy and stay there all fat, happy and stupid from all the wine, cheese and cured meats.