"There's always room for a story that can transport people to another place." --J.K. Rowling
I'm a sucker for a good story. When I was little, I remember the giddy anticipation of knowing my parents were going to read me a story before bed - or even better - a story they made up on their own.
As a kid, story-time was my best form of travel. I'd close my eyes and teleport into the illustration. I explored by slipping my feet into someone else's shoes. Now, I'm exploring and there's no need to close my eyes or live vicariously to experience stories. I've been traveling for five months, and I've experienced at least five countries throughout Africa and Asia - places full of stories to share. My experiences have become the story and there are more chapters to come.
With eyes and heart wide open, I have learned that stories provide not only insight into someone else's world but also lend perspective into my own as well.
Traveling has helped me realize this. Once you know a person's or place's story, the more you can better understand. Stories provide a lens to look at the world through someone else's eyes. The more I spend time exploring creation and hearing stories from places, people and cultures - the more I understand them and can get a glimpse of the world through a stranger's eyes. How cool is that?
I'm used to sharing stories through writing, but I decided to give videos a shot during my travels. Each month, I've been soaking in my travels through a camera lens. Whether I was crashing a wedding in Cambodia, surfing in South Africa, singing and dancing with children in Lesotho, sleeping in tents in Swaziland, or trying local foods in Vietnam - I’ve loved expressing the patchwork of sights and sounds from different cultures. The more I try to accurately capture a moment, the more I realize my passion for sharing stories.
I feel so alive when I get to capture children's giggles, real moments and people in community together. I love finding the right light and angles to best display the moment I'm in. I thrive off of getting to know the stories of people and places, and helping other people understand them as well.
Not all stories are happy. After I left my comfortable bubble, I witnessed how much hurt and brokenness our world holds. For me, experiencing this first hand brought the reality that our world needs to hear stories of hope in the midst of struggle. Our stories show our scars, but more importantly they show how we have healed and become stronger from our worldly wounds. The best feeling is when I get to help share those testimonies with others; They can provide a "me too" that can help people feel like they're not alone.
I've seen God's handiwork through massive waterfalls. I've felt small and insignificant standing on top of Table Mountain in Cape Town, South Africa. I've actually felt the richness and fullness of life the most when I've had the least - sleeping on floors without any of the comforts of home.
I think it's important for others to experience different people, places, and cultures. Traveling has made me realize how many stories there are out there to tell. When I piece together the collage of video clips from my month, or write down a story of an experience that changed my perspective, my hope is that people can feel like they're traveling with me.
When I was younger I loved hearing stories, but now through my own adventure I get to be the storyteller. I never would have realized my love for sharing stories without leaving home and seeking a different perspective. Sometimes it takes leaving the comfortable to find ourselves and our passions clearly. Stepping outside my bubble made me realize what makes me feel alive.
So my encouragement to you is:
Go out. Explore. Experience culture. Listen to stories. Soak it in. Change your perspective. Find your passion. Pass it on.