Upgrading Your Soul Is the Goal

“I love Africa…South Africa and West Africa are both great countries.” — Paris Hilton, soul-challenged.

Inspired by: ifitweremyhome.com and countryreports.org

When my brothers and I were growing up, my mom grabbed pretty much every chance she found or invented to drive home the importance of travelling abroad. Our family trips involved a lot of miles and rented or borrowed recreational vehicles, but we always went somewhere, and my folks would tell us stories of their own adventures in the wider world. Their anecdotes weren’t bragging rights; they weren’t even really about the destinations themselves (though we especially loved their tales of treks through Yucatan jungles). Often, they ended with my mom’s ultra-critical reminder to get out into the world to learn how others perceive your country and the people in it. By drilling this idea into us as kids, she effectively pickpocketed from us any excuse we may have come up with not to make travel a full-size and continuing objective.

Now maybe you can’t afford to travel abroad. Or maybe you’d just rather have that new Hybrid you’ve been eyeing instead. No worries! These days, to some extent anyway, the outside world can come to you. Check out, for example, IfItWereMyHome.com, one fun website that puts the BP oil spill in your living room and Mozambique under your mouse. Scroll down to find practical reading recommendations by country or learn how depressed you’d be if you lived in Belgium versus, say, Malta. Use the handy Country by Comparison feature for regular reminders of either how lucky you are to live where you live, or how much less electricity you’d use if you lived in Ecuador (wow! 91.44% less!).

Don’t give two shits about the environment? No problemo, if you lived in Ecuador you’d also spend 94.36% less on healthcare and have a 15.05% greater of chance of being employed than in you do in the U.S. You could blow all that extra cash on increasing your carbon footprint with several hybrids! Or what if you didn’t live in Ecuador at all? If the Cayman Islands were your home instead you’d have a 66.54% lower chance of dying in infancy! You’d also live 5+ years longer and you’d have 49 friggen’ percent greater chance of getting a job, you Mestizo bum. That’s 51% less of a chance your friends will have to stake your broke-ass to a meal and seven beers the next time you go out!

But maybe you don’t own a computer. (Sure, bub. You’re reading this post somewhere, aren’t you?) Fine: you don’t even have to “waste” your time surfing the web. If you live and work on the west side of your city, head east for a change. Take a bus instead of your soundproof cocoon (that looks like a half-used bar of soap on wheels). Visit an urban park and absorb the languages and cultures you find there. In other words, just get out of your comfort zone and learn some things about the world. Like my mom says, “travel doesn’t make you better than other people: travel is an addition to your soul.”

“The object of travel is not to set foot on foreign land; it is at last to set foot on one’s own country as a foreign land.”  — G.K. Chesterton