28 March 2011

Cambiar de Aire

The Spanish have a wonderful way of saying that they're going somewhere else for a time--they say that they're going to "cambiar de aire," or change the air that they breathe.  They could be going from the hot city air of Madrid to the cool ocean air of Galicia, or from the air on the plains in Salamanca to the air in the mountains of Granada.  No matter what they're doing, though, this saying to me has a very deep and insightful meaning--one of the most fundamental elements of their lives is changing when they change location.

I like to keep this saying in mind whenever I go somewhere different.  When I do, a trip isn't just a "trip"--it's an experience that I can relish and revel in as most of the basic inputs of my life are changed on a significant level.  I am changing air, and breathing air that's being affected by a whole range of different atmospheric influences.  But I'm also hearing different people speak, people who have been affected by a completely different range of environmental influences than the people I normally spend time with.  I'm eating different food, prepared as a result of differences in culture, taste, and the readily available ingredients.  Sometimes I'm even surrounded by different languages and schedules and ways of living, and if I keep my eyes and heart open to the differences that I experience, I most certainly can learn a lot from people who have experienced life in many different ways than I have.

Of course, there's a lot to be said about recognizing similarities and enjoying the fact that people are people, no matter where they live.  But when I have the chance to change air, I want to enjoy the new air and take from it what I can.  If I do so, then my entire life experience becomes richer from an entirely new set of inputs.  Changing air is a positive experience, but only if we make it so.

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