In response to last week’s Where’s your old home?, Juno Kim mentioned in the comments that she might be afraid to return to New Zealand because “it would change everything”. I think she was worried that it wouldn’t be the same New Zealand she remembered when and if she returned.
That is one important thing to remember: we can’t recreate travel experiences. We can return to places, but our experience won’t be the same. I believe this has less to do with the destination changing and more to do with our own self changing.
We human beings are constantly evolving. Every day, every experience, changes us, shapes our new self, leaves new imprints on our soul. Personally, I know my philosophies, attitude, values, and beliefs are changing and evolving as I grow older.
When we revisit a destination, we are by that time a different person, with a different outlook on the world. This is a good thing. We need to be open and accepting for our mind and spirit to develop over the course of our life. We experience the world differently at different ages, different stages of our time here on earth.
I lived in Madrid for nine months back in 2008. I know if I return to Madrid it will be a much different Madrid than I remember. I remember loving Madrid. Loving the people and places there. I remember loving the atmosphere.
If I think to myself that I miss Madrid, this is not necessarily the case. Perhaps I’m just missing that stage of my life. Perhaps I miss having a close group of international friends nearby. Perhaps I miss steady employment and dedicated students. Perhaps I miss lingering in the bars and cafés of the old city til the early morning.
If we revisit a destination, we should enter that place with no expectations, except that we will have new experiences. This is true even if we go to the exact same sites or do the same activities in that place. We should not burden the destination by demanding that it live up to the way we once knew it.
When I revisit Madrid, I may sit at the same outdoor cafés eating the same tapas, view the same Velázquez in the Prado, and stroll the same grounds of Park Retiro. But it will be different. And it will be good.