“Adventure is a path. Real adventure – self-determined, self-motivated, often risky – forces you to have firsthand encounters with the world. The world the way it is, not the way you imagine it. Your body will collide with the earth and you will bear witness. In this way you will be compelled to grapple with the limitless kindness and bottomless cruelty of humankind – and perhaps realize that you yourself are capable of both. This will change you. Nothing will ever again be black-and-white.” – Mark Jenkins
Today I begin my self-determined encounter with the world. Feeling light-footed with my 40 pound pack I set off from Washington Dulles airport to London Heathrow. The last time I left that airport was on another grand adventure, one that injected me with the travel bug and made me fall in love with India. Since then, I never really imagined my study abroad experience taking me to Europe. But, I am on a new path of adventure. While India was one of discovering my travel style and overcoming assumptions, this adventure is one of independence and academics.
My next four months will be filled with trying to understand and overcome gendered issues of oppression. I want to understand the world the way it is; although, I’m sure I’ll much prefer the way I imagine it. Right now, I see the potential for limitless kindness in everyone and don’t particularly have any interest in uncovering the bottomless cruelty of humankind. Regardless of what I believe, however, if it is there I want to find it.
Travel does that: it will reveal the human spirit, both in myself and illuminate it in others. I enter in to this experience with nothing but excitement. My apprehension was left at the gates in Dulles and my fears were never given the chance to surface. Curiosity, wonder, and spontaneous delight (see the e. e. cummings quote for which this blog is named) are all that I know.
Endless energy for exploration will (hopefully) get me through the jetlag. First stop, Oxford University. Then I’ on to London and Bath, over to Ireland and up to Scotland before setting sail to Amsterdam for the semester. It will be a whirl wind of 2 weeks, but I wouldn’t have it any other way. Some of the last words of wisdom I got from two separate people was to go climb a tree. They know me well, and how I an manage to feel at home. I’ll see what Oxford has to say about that.