Today, I slapped a thick layer of sunscreen all over my arms and legs and, along with my husband, drove to the beach, sun hats in tow.
As we approached the part of the city where the road curves left and runs parallel to the shore, I had this great feeling of familiarity. We passed the snack shop that sells coxinhas and Itaipava beer, the craft stalls and Acai stands, the guy that scrapes corn off the cob and serves it in a cup with butter and salt. I thrust my SPF’d elbow out of the passenger side window, took it all in, and pretended for the hundreth that I was a local Brazilian woman, heading to the beach like it’s no big deal.
I love when a trip comes to this point of casual familiarity, when your perspective shifts from “Who is that guy and why is he standing in middle of the road?” to “There’s the guy who knocks on your car window and tries to sell you windshield wipers.”
The first time I traveled abroad by myself, I remember having the distinct feeling of being far away and zoomed out of my American existence, like I could see my former life from an almost omnipotent standpoint. From this aerial view, I felt like I could determine with greater clarity what was working, what was important, what was trivial, and what I wanted to change.
I think this is what many people experience when they travel, and although I don’t believe that seeing the world helps us to “find ourselves,” I 100% believe stepping away from our norm and diving into a new culture can do wonders in terms of refocusing ourselves and re-assessing what’s truly important.
After 10 days in Brazil, I can sufficiently say I’ve stepped out of my norm, and not just because I’ve been drinking coffee out of cups a fraction of the size of the ones in the US (seriously, how does anyone get caffeinated around here?!). I’m experiencing those familiar “zoomed out” feelings, along with the sentiments that usually follow – gratitude and appreciation.
Whatever you’re up to today, whether it’s a normal work day or you’re running errands or at home with your kids, I hope you too can take a moment to step out of your norm, whether by trying a