The World is my Teacher
Lessons Learnt Travelling Through South-east USA
I am on a quest of self-improvement and I find inspirations in almost every person, place, thing and event that I encounter or part-take in. I feel like I am an open vessel, ready and willing to learn from God, and His creation; the universe, the world, people and places. I know that I have to be discerning and selective as there are good and bad lessons along this path.
I have had several manifestations of teachers who unknowingly are helping me along this journey. Some of them I meet on hubpages. I will mention a few such as msorensson; metaphysician; James A Watkins; SEM Pro and there are countless others whose hub have enlightened and inspired me to search for answers to the questions of life.
This hub was inspired by my recent road trip through south-eastern USA. I will not rehash all the different places of our visit in this hub as I have already done so in my previous hub about Inspiration on the Road. What I will address is the emotions that were inspired by the people and places that we encountered. I will give a general overview rather than the specific details of time and places.
I was pleasantly reminded of the beauty in people, nature, and architecture as seen throughout south-eastern USA. My husband, son and I travelled for eight days, going through fourteen states and clocking about 4, 200 kilometres on our car. The road trip was one of many trips that we have taken together as a family. We enjoy spending time together and especially seeing the world through the eyes of my six year old son. He is so excited about everything; bright eyes and no restraint in his display of joy and excitement. Even hubby was showing some excitement. This was rear as he is usually very restrained. On the other hand, I am usually very excitable and can find fun and pleasure in even mundane events as watching a colony of ants streaming across our backyard deck. This trip was not mundane for sure. It was exciting, fun and provided lessons for life.
This trip serves as reminder of the following advice:
- Be grateful of all gifts, big and small
- Be appreciative of the world; there is beauty in everything.
- Speak well of everyone, even those who are negative.
- Believe in yourself, be kind to yourself and speak well of yourself.
- Be patient; it takes effort and dedication to achieve one's dream.
- Know yourself and seek to understand others
- Be open minded and the world will open up to you
- People are kind so be receptive of their kindness
- There is safety in the world, even if history is harsh
These are some fundamental beliefs that most people were raised with, but over time and life's experience, we forgot some of them. My trip through south-east USA was the catalyst that brought me back to my basic roots. It reminded me of words my parents and grandparents instructed me as a child. Words that were buried deep in my consciousness as I struggled in this rat-race of life.
Now you are wondering how can a fast pace trip across a quarter of America, do so much for anyone. Well what you look for you will find. So as we interacted with people we saw God's kindness and beauty. Point in case, we were about to park in a not so nice part of the city in Atlanta and a women came up to us and told us that if we have packages and bags in the back of the vehicle, we should make sure that they are hidden. She told us that cars are often broken into in that area. Now you could say that is nothing special and anyone could have given that information. Well, if our car was broken into, that would have negatively impacted our trip. Our enjoyment would be diminished somewhat; we would not have maintained our schedule due to the delay to repair the vehicle. I see kindness and concern for others in this person who took the time to advise us about the safety of our vehicle.
Our encounter with two American leaders; one a leader whose philosophy was non-violence and peace in the face of hate and adversaries; the other a sportsman who self-actualized by believing in himself and achieving his dream. These inspirational men stand tall as reminder that we should believe in ourselves, work hard, step outside the line and reach for our desires. Along their journey, their lives inspired many as they contributed to change the human condition for the better.
You may argue that not everyone can not attain the level of success that these public figures achieved, but each of us can achieve success at the level of our dreams and desires. We are only limited by our thoughts and beliefs. Success to one person may be raising children who are well adjusted adults, leading fulfilled lives and contributing to the betterment of the world. Conversely, another person might view success as finding a cure for cancer. Whatever the goal may be, it demands the same level of intensity and determination to achieve your dream in whatever you do.
You may be saying to yourself, I cannot be successful in everything. That is a lie. We are usually our worst critics and perceived limitations are the constructs of our mind. I believe that once we establish goals/desires/dreams and set out to achieve them; focusing on the end result, applying dedication and determination, then we will achieve them. There will be setbacks and obstacles to overcome along the path. If we remain focus on our goal and take action, then as the Bible says, 'we'll reap our just reward'.
Many people fail to achieve the success that they desire because of self criticism. Self criticism is from a place of pain and it can prevent us from achieving our goal. This pain is from our socialization and perceived negativities in our experiences. It's that voice in our head that said 'you can't do it because you are not smart enough or connected enough.' This voice can create self doubt which can lead to excuses for not achieving our goal. Self criticism is from a feeling of unworthiness. Fellow hubber, Melinda teaches that we can write your own life scrip/affirmations.
External criticism can trigger negative reactions within most people and deter them from achieving their goals. The reaction is often as a defence mechanism because we feel vulnerable. What we need to remember here is that criticism is sometimes from a place of love and is meant to make us better. We can experience personal growth from constructive criticism. Conversely, some criticism can be destructive to one's confidence. Usually our reaction to what may be perceived as criticism has to be weighed for validity. If it passes the validity test, meaning that you can experience personal improvement from what you hear, then the criticism is given with good intentions. If on the other hand, you cannot get over the bad feeling from criticism, or it does not serve to enlighten, then it is given mean spiritedly.
How do we counter negativity of criticism? Speaking well of oneself and others, as well as accepting that we are wonderfully made in God's image, can stem the effects of negative criticism. We therefore have everything we need to achieve our goal. If you desire happiness, peace and joy; it is attainable. We have to believe that we are worthy of the boundless gifts from the universe. Our past should not keep us shackled to the hurt and pain of our ancestors. We are here for a purpose and that is to show that love can conquer all manner of evil. This is not to say that we should forget about the past and not learn from the experiences of others who have come before us. It means that we do not have to be slaves to the past. The world is a safe place even if history is harsh.
In 2001, the 911 devastation of the twin towers in New York has been etched on our consciousness, as we watched the terrorist attack replayed on our television screen over and over again. Our world has been changed as a result. On a recent trip to New York City, I felt a sense of safety and calm. It was as if the wound of 911 had healed and there was no scar tissue left to remind of the nasty wound. People were going about their business, having a great time and the city was as vibrant as ever. It never entered my mind that almost eight years ago, we experienced a great tragedy. I only recalled the New York devastation some time after we returned home. This goes to show that those who tried to harm, did not win. Even though many families still bear the pain as they lost loved ones, life goes on and hate has not taken over the heart of those who were so brutally hurt. New York has bounced back and continues to be the most intriguing city in the world.
It is said that today we have more online social network groups than ever; people spend much time e-mailing, texting, and blogging and have lost the art of conversation or basic verbal face-face interaction with another human being. Facebook and Twitter are the fastest growing social network on the internet. A friend who lives in a condo in Toronto, told me that she does not know her neighbour even though they share a wall. They lived in the building for over five years. I told her to go and knock at the neighbours door and introduce herself. She did exactly that and now they are friends, taking turns to watch each other kids play outside.
We live in a world of fast food, drive through, jet-set lifestyle, travelling across half of the world in matter of hours. We have no time to speak to our neighbours. We buy million dollar homes only to sleep in them for a few hours at night because we spend ten to sixteen hours a day away from home six days a week. We actually spend more time in our cars, commuting to work than we spend enjoying our homes. Gone are the days when family sit down to a meal or two per day. Our children are addicted to video games and obesity is on the rise. In 1982 obesity rate was 4% among children, in 2001 it was 33%. (Annecollins.com) Wow, the more we achieve materially, the less we enjoy. That's the irony of wealth accumulation. Our children spend more time every day with strangers than they spend with their family. Kids are dropped off at daycare at 7 AM and picked up at 6 PM, that's eleven hours that someone is taking care of our children. Indeed, we all want to make a living, but at what cost?
I would like to challenge us to make a small change. The next time you are about to pass a stranger, say 'hello'. Look them in the eye and ask "How are You?" and mean it. I tried it while we were on our trip through south-eastern USA. Whenever we stopped for gas or stopped in a new city, I would strike up a conversation with someone. I would start with a smile and then say "How do you do?" Everyone responded with a smile and ninety percent of people will start a conversation. After all, we are all connected by the human race, so why not show we care.