Starting in 2005, I have averaged over 125,000 air-miles a year in travel for my day job. In addition to that, I have driven back-forth from my home in Northern Kentucky to Detroit, Chicago, and Nashville more times than I can count. In short, I get around.
Its all too easy for me to complain about the traveling life and there is plenty to be negative about. Airports, crowds, lost baggage, flight delays, poor hotel service, loneliness, etc, etc. And the nature of my travel is not leisurely. I don't get to sight-see and the goal of my travel is to get the job done so I can get back to my family.
That being said, however, there is plenty to be grateful for. I've been to places and done things I never thought I'd see/do. I've been to China and got a glimpse of the amazing Chinese culture. I've been to Germany and seen a cathedral the pre-dates the age of my country by 500 years. I've walked into the wrong bathroom in Brazil. I've been to Argentina, Mexico, and Columbia and discovered the huge differences in culture between those former Spanish colonial interests. I've literally set foot in the Atlantic and Pacific ocean in the same week. I've flown from a winter storm in one hemisphere into the heat of summer in another hemisphere. I can go on and on.
At the risk of sounding "touchy-feely", however, the one thing I'm most grateful for is confirmation in the truth that people have far more in common than not. When you strip away politics, economics, language, and culture, you are left with people who want the same basics: love, comfort, peace. I find this very comforting. I've been the benefactor of hospitality and friendship all over the world and found kinship globally. Yes, I've encountered "assholes" in my travels as well and can confirm that being a jerk transcends national boundaries as well (in fact, I've been guilty of being an American ambassador of bad behavior). But so too does compassion and empathy transcend borders and thank God for that as it takes the edge off of being an outsider within another "tribe".
As I wrap up another calendar year of travel and pack my bags for another trip to Brazil next week, I take stock of this existence I've stumbled into, focusing on the positives. I look forward to seeing my Brazilian friends again, sharing some laughs over meals, and doing my best to get the job done so I can get home to partake in the love, comfort, and peace found within my own tribe.
I wish everyone everywhere a joyous and peaceful 2013.