I don’t remember if I mentioned it (ha!), but I was recently in Washington DC on the trip of a lifetime with my father and my sister.
I may not be as well-traveled as some, but I believe travel to be vital to the human existence. The benefits of travel are myriad, but I find my travel falls into two main categories: relaxation or education.
Washington DC fell firmly under the umbrella of education. We did not relax much as we raced from one thing to the next, cramming as much as possible into five days, though it was relaxing in the sense that I didn’t have to do any housework, kid work, or work work.
In addition to education and quasi-relaxation, Washington DC had another side effect on me that I was not looking for or expecting: personal growth. I am not the same person I was as we careened toward the runway into Reagan National Airport. Fortunately, I lived to tell about it.
The ways I am changed since my trip to DC:
- I am an out and proud Democrat. Anyone could have guessed it, but I am now broadcasting this fact with assurance and confidence. Why? Because I fell in love with FDR and I saw the actual ‘aisle’ referred to in “…this side of the aisle…” and because I soaked up so much political history that our forefathers would weep if they knew there were people out there who couldn’t commit to democracy because it was just too controversial.
- Over the years, I have become increasingly concerned with making sure we take care of our less fortunate neighbors, but I was doing very little in the way of actual help due to my own finances or timing. In DC, my dad and I handed out fistfuls of dollar bills to the homeless and it felt so good! We couldn’t buy them a house, we couldn’t pay for their rehab or mental health treatment, but we could give them a dollar or two to get them through another day of being homeless. DC taught me that I can live generously every day. Find the need and fill it. It’s that simple.
- I felt so alive in the presence of history, drunk on every new sight I took in, goosebumps at the very thought that Martin Luther King Jr stood in this spot, that George Washington sat in this office, that Thomas Jefferson held these books in his own hands, that Lincoln’s assassin traveled this very route, that President Obama and almost every President before has walked these halls, sat in these rooms. I had to be pried out of my state of awe more than once for the sake of time. The takeaway, the result of being in the presence of greatness, for me, is that I need to strive to be great. Our forefathers were the agents of change in their time and now it’s my turn to get busy being the change I want to see in the world.
- I am inspired to learn more than ever before. After the vacation hangover finally ended, I found myself giddy to explore history, poetry, literature, music, art, EVERYTHING, and make sure my kids are taking it all in, too. I’m going to make a much stronger effort to avoid my usual mindless distractions and use the time to improve myself, my family, and my world.
- Most importantly, Dad, already a hero to me, achieved sainthood in my eyes. We chose to go to Washington DC because we shared common interest in history and politics, and I could not get enough of Dad’s factoids and stories. He knows everything about everything, which I knew, but I did not realize it would actually come in handy someday. Never in my adult life have I spent so much undivided time with my dad. It was amazing, I wanted it to last forever. He strutted around Washington DC with his two daughters like he was the luckiest man on Earth. I know we are the luckiest girls on Earth.
I’m glad to be back home with my family and sleeping in my own bed. I will never be the same person I was before, and I will most certainly be going back to Washington DC with my family as soon as they are old enough. It am now convinced that it should be required travel for everyone.