An essay and photograph by Isabelle Sorrells
Adventure is much closer than we think. Where can we find it? In culture. Through the cultures of foreign peoples and foreign countries and in our own hands. Readily we can find daring escapades and green fields of opportunity eagerly awaiting in our culture at home and the culture just over the river. If only we were willing to step out of our doors and venture beneath the sun. We are so close to a discovery which can broaden all we can know, do, and become.
There would be nothing to discover, no adventure, no Indiana Jones without the various peoples and cultures of the world. Dr. Jones traveled to Italy, Africa, the Amazon and beyond in search of and to protect invaluable, ancient artifacts. It wasn’t the place they came from that made them so important, but the people and their estranged, exotic cultures that made such artifacts and gave them their significance. By exploring other ways of life, we are exposed to entirely new worlds our imagination could never have fathomed; outlandish food from the furthest crevasses of the sea or the rarest spices cultivated in the highest mountains, bright, mystical clothing meant for the strongest winds or hottest days, mosaics and tapestries with colors drawn from violent places and paid for with men’s lives, and heart-rending tales of bravery and woe from folklore, legend, and history. Utterly and completely, humans are awestruck by the impossible structures which have been made by the old (and new) civilizations. Although what captivates us most – other than the beauty – is the undeniable fact that humans are responsible for its construction. Not aliens. We travel to the distant lands to see God’s work in the world and in us as well as the impact humanity has on such things with our gift of creation. I do not believe all there is in this world to touch and see has been unearthed, since it is far too big and ever-changing. Indiana Jones does not have to be a fantasy. Travel, exploration, discovery, adventure; these are all possible in life and can be revealed in each other and the things we have yet to know.
One is not required to travel to distant, hostile lands to find something new. I have uncovered many strange ways of life in my own country. I moved from New York to Texas – the original south – and I experienced a drastic transition. Obviously aside from the landscape and climate differences, I’ve found the culture significantly divergent from my own. For instance, the way religion is approached here (although the subject matter is not so different from New York) is so radically offbeat from the northern perspective. It is not simply a thing people believe, it is how they live. Another thing I’ve noticed while integrating into this culture is communication is the hardest part, but not in an overt way. While our language is the same, how it is executed is where it gets complicated. Other than the occasional accent both cultures sound the same, but I still have some difficulty following conversation. Why? It is the way southerners use volume in their speech, speed, and sometimes structure of sentences the make it so challenging to engage in. In Texas, people speak slow and lower their voices in odd places to make a point, whereas “Yankees” speak fast and raise their voices to express themselves. Northerners are direct and succinct but in the south people are more passively artistic with their words. Who would have thought such simple things as speech patterns could matter so much? And this is all because of culture – so distinct even though it is just the divergence between the north and south. The size, the moods, the values of people from these two places vary so strongly. Even the treatment of and relationship with time and history are otherwise opposed. All I had to do was change states and I found a culture so disparate from my own. What an adventure life is. All because no two people are the same. Isolated lands are not the only domains with new people, places, and ideas.
There is no better way to learn than to live. Where does history come from? The lives of our ancestors and past cultures; these can be found today even still in the reflections of society or something more. So why not go out into the world to passionately live and experience the present to learn about the past? We would know of our ancestors, their influence, and their relevance in today’s world as well as what they did to give us this day as we know it. Finding the truth for ourselves is far more memorable and exciting than reading it in a summarized textbook or being told it all by someone else in a closed room. There is nothing wrong with books and reading or research to learn. Experiencing and living culture is a reliable teacher too. Evidently, we don’t have to travel to learn either; just gaining experience in our towns, our countries, and our people can teach us so much about our own culture and history. Our world isn’t our own. By shutting ourselves behind doors and closed windows while merely hearing about what’s outside we are limiting ourselves to a narrow perspective and narrative. There is an abundance of experiences and knowledge out there which can be ours, if only we are willing to go, to search, to live, and to learn.
Travel is a wistful dream for many which, like most dreams, is not something we can do every day. Although I would not say travel is the only way for us to learn and explore. Living is. By truly living intentionally and with purpose. Boldly being involved, curious, willing to try new things, and to always endeavor to know more. Culture is history as we are our culture. So why should we not venture to see and understand the origins of ourselves?