Everyone has heard it: “You don’t always have to be right.” This particular phrase has been around for a while. And though I generally try to come up with unique content, I thought this one was due a reunification with the globetrotters out there.
Not always being right is a notion that has served me well many times on the road. In fact, I can recall several instances of sitting at some train station somewhere and looking up from my book to see someone who hadn’t quite hammered in this ideology. And there they were, quibbling over some mundane detail of their itinerary with their partner (or worse; the conductor). They’d go on and on about how they were right and the other person was wrong. They’d throw their hands up and raise their voice.
But does it really matter that much if you spent three extra dollars on your last meal? Could it be that terrible that you could have visited the beach instead of the mountains? And when was the last time that you honestly gave a crap about eating a bad meal one time out of hundreds?
You saved up money for this trip – spend it. You came here to see new things – beaches or mountains or waterfalls or whatever: it’s all a bonus because you haven’t seen it before. And you can always choose something else on the menu next time. But for now, you know what broiled cobra tastes like in Vietnam.
Many times we get so caught up in the confusion of time tables and the frustration of possibly over-spending that we seem to lay all the rest to the wayside. This is even more profound a sentiment when traveling with a romantic partner. Along with stripping away the tools in our “back-home tool boxes,” traveling also strips away our politeness and patience. So we’re left exposed as the real people that we are inside.
Having this knowledge beforehand will undoubtedly serve us well as we gallivant the globe. But there’s also something more. We should take with us those lessons, but also remember that it’s not so much important to be correct in every decision that we make on the road. We’ll make many bad decisions before we’ve found out how to be comfortable in this new place. We’ll eat the wrong food, spend way too much on this thing or that thing, we’ll make the wrong turn on the map and wind up in the opposite direction and we’ll even look around us and truly believe that these people just have it in for us and they want us to fail.
The key to letting go of all of these inevitably frustrating circumstances is to understand that there are, many times, situations that we simply can’t control, have foreknowledge of or be able to do right the very first time. And even if we did know everything we needed to know, we don’t have to be so callous as to gloat about it or deride others in an effort to simply prove ourselves right.
After all, when we look back on a situation from the point in time where we have concluded our time on that particular road, we’ll only remember these frustrations as times that taught us to be the person we are today.
Like this photo from this journal? Check out the album HERE.
My new book, Insights from the Pavement, is a collection of 101 Travel Oms just like this one. Look for it to be released soon.
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