A conversation I had with family a week or so ago got me thinking about the way we perceive distances as we grow older. There seems to be a close link to our experiences with travel. For example, for two years I took a bus to and from college with an overall journey time of around three hours. I had friends who did something similar and it was something we did out of necessity. What surprised me, however, was how quickly I adapted to what was, with hindsight, a rather ridiculous amount of travel on a daily basis. Now I don’t consider anything less than two hours to be a long journey, whereas when I was younger this would seem like forever. This is why it took me by surprise when some of my older family members were discussing an occasion when they had to take the same bus I used to catch for college, and complaining about how long it took and how impractical it was. I found myself defending a journey that I hadn’t exactly enjoyed in the first place, without really knowing why I felt so strongly about it.
I’m fascinated with the idea of identity and what makes us who we are, so I always try to take the time to think about what motivates me, and this unexpected reaction wasn’t something I could ignore. I eventually came to the conclusion that the issue of travel and distance is something very significant within my life. I have always been intrigued by travel and by different cultures – half the things listed on my bucket list involve leaving the country – and the biggest reason for this is my love of people. People interest me, and this isn’t restricted to people I know, or people in my university, city, or even country. I love that I have the means to communicate with people all over the world. Some of my closest friends are people I have never met face-to-face (or hadn’t when we first became friends), and this too affects my perception of distance. Distance has become more of a flexible thing for me; it’s something that can be overcome.
It’s something to be celebrated.
So, to what extent do our experiences shape our perception of distance and travel in our everyday lives? I believe that, whilst the answer is not quantifiable, there is most definitely an impact. The effects may be small (traveling to a festival on the other side of the country), or they could be more long-lasting (moving away from home and meeting all sorts of new people at university), but each of these new experiences are made possible by broadening our horizons. I can say with complete certainty that without the internet and its ability to dissolve boundaries between people of different countries and cultures I would not be the person I am today. Whether that’s a good thing or a bad thing, I’m never going to know, but I do know I wouldn’t be writing this now.
Dare to dream big, because distance is no boundary.