Sunday, March 8, 2015

Cool Story Bro

Have you ever tried to tell a travel story to someone who rarely travels? Odds are you met some difficulties in your delivery. There you are putting all of your energy into the tale. Hopeful your experience might be shared with some family member, friend, or stranger. But it's not a shared moment at all. They smile, nod, and give a comment with little substance; then the engagement is over. After such a limited response you might feel like the experience you were trying to convey wasn't as important as you initially thought. Calm down.

Even the people closest to you often fail to grasp how formative some experiences have been. You can tell them all the details, qualitative and quantitative, and still miss the mark. How can you expect someone to relate to a story set in a place they have never seen and filled with characters they never met. You have to keep the point simple and easy or else they are lost.

Occasionally you might meet someone who has been to the setting of your story. Awesome, they can relate! But most of the time they don't. As you explain your moment of enlightenment or despair there might be only one line of thought on their mind: "Why am I not there now? Why wasn't that me? My time there was better." Again, you still get the same smiles, nods and unsubstantial comments.

One very common reason for this phenomena though is simply because they just don't care. People who don't travel often generally have a reason why they are being tied down. Health, car note, house note, medical bills, overloaded at work, wife, husband, kids... They are overwhelmed and one of the last things they want to hear is how you found yourself under a waterfall in Fiji while they were stuck in a cubicle.

As a traveler you have to accept few people in your life will ever fully understand and appreciate your stories. It's hard because our stories are what make us; they are the fortune we have saved over the years of wandering. You have to look past it and see the real value was in the experience and not the ability to retell it, or have others relate to it. Eventually you might feel it is fine to smile and nod yourself, after there is no grand acknowledgement. Then, finally, you might just quit telling the stories outright, because you know all you are gonna hear is some variation of: "Cool story bro!"