The vote is in, but most of us feel battered and bruised- regardless of the outcome. These truths from traveling give us hope for whatever may lie ahead…
I woke up late this morning with a tinge of sadness. If the other candidate had won, I’m willing to bet I’d still feel sad somewhere in my heart. It was that kind of election. Two people with historic negative numbers. Two people with plenty of skeletons in their closets and an American electorate that was, as we saw at the polls, desperate for some sort of radical change.
If your Facebook feed has looked like mine over the past several months, chances are you’ve either lost some friends or at the very least unfollowed several. It’s been a social media civil war, and now we must somehow move toward a positive future whether our candidate won or lost.
The stakes are high, but I won’t go into all the very important issues facing our country. Instead, I wanted to share with you how travel, particularly within the United States, has kept me hopeful through this election.
It will also keep me hopeful going forward.
Here are 3 things that give me hope. Maybe they’ll do the same for you.
I’m convinced of the goodness of the people
This morning, Jill and Warren Schimpff will unlock the door and turn on the lights to Schimpff’s Confectionery, just as their family has for the past 125 years. Warren will heat up the sugar and Jill will MC as children press their noses against the glass to watch candy be made.
The Schimpffs will continue working to bring goodness to children’s lives. I’m guessing most of the parents, nurses, teachers, doctors, babysitters, and coaches across this country will do the same, regardless of their political opinions. I can’t tell you how many people like the Schimpffs I’ve met across this country. It gives me hope.
As part of my travels, I often lead large groups of people across the country in big motor coaches. Despite spending this highly politicized summer with several hundred people, I didn’t witness a single political fight. Not one.
You know what I did see? Compassion and tenderness. I saw younger guests assist older guests with walking to the restroom. I saw an elderly gentleman being led through Yellowstone National Park with a stranger on each arm. I saw a wonderful recently widowed woman adopted as an honorary grandmother by another family.
Over the past few years I’ve logged tens of thousands of miles in nearly every part of the country, meeting people along the way. You know what I found? We’re all very different. We’re all very much the same.
Case in Point: My time on MINI Takes the States
If there’s a group of car owners that pride themselves in individuality, it’s MINI owners. Try to find two MINIs alike. You won’t. Try to find two MINI owners who are alike. You won’t find that either. Despite their pride in individuality, thousands of these owners found a way to drive across the country for two weeks for MINI Takes the States without any massive fights or blowups. In fact, their differences is what makes it fun to tag along on that trip. Their diversity is their biggest strength and something they collectively celebrate. Let’s make America a little more like that.
My worries and needs as a single white man in Cincinnati are different from that of the Iowa farmer and his family as are his from a single mother in Chicago or a gay man in New York City. None of those worries and needs are any less important than the others. Somehow, someway, we need to keep that in mind.
That’s what travel does for you- It gives you perspective. I’d encourage everyone to go somewhere unlike where you currently live. It could have different weather, people, population- I don’t care. Just make it a goal to see the world from at least a little different perspective this winter.
There are places in the US so amazing they inspire peace and hope
One of my most cherished travel memories came from the roof of the Old Faithful Inn in Yellowstone. I stood there, folding the American flag with a stranger as Old Faithful shot her water into the air and bison meandered below.
It’s impossible to hold hate or malice in your heart in those moments.
The sheer size of the Grand Canyon or the beauty of a sunset over Big Sur will instill peace in your soul.
The impressiveness of the Hoover Dam or the Chicago skyline will inspire you to dream. Places like these remind me what we’re capable of when we show the best of our American tenacity.
We have a rich history of rising to the occasion
One of the most moving places I’ve visited is the Oklahoma City National Memorial. It was at this site a madman, fueled by hate and racism, exploded a rental truck and took 168 lives. Of those, several were children. Instead of derailing our federal government and uniting racist militias, the bomb’s explosion rallied people from all over the world to support the people of Oklahoma City.
Whenever a body was removed from the rubble, the rescue workers paused, joined hands, and said a prayer. When pressed, we rise to the occasion. There’s hope in that.
Today, the memorial and adjacent museum stand as a reminder: America’s darkest moments are followed by its greatest triumphs.
At Lincoln’s Tomb in Springfield, IL, I’m reminded of another madman’s attempt to thwart our movement toward reconciliation. Instead, he martyred a great president and galvanized this country toward the Reconstruction. Places like his tomb and the Lincoln Memorial remind me that Lincoln inspired other great men and women to also rise to the occasion… to refuse to give up their seat on a bus… to “have a dream,” and to “fear nothing but fear itself.”
On a lighter note… There are people I’ve met like Angel Delgadillo, a friendly barber from out west, who inspire me. When Route 66 was all but replaced by the interstate system, his family struggled to get by. Angel rose to the occasion and rallied the entire country to make Route 66 a tourist destination.
Today, thousands flock to Angel’s little barber shop in Seligman, AZ to shake his hand and see his big smile as he shares stories of hope and inspiration (Including the folks at Pixar who relied on him heavily for the movie Cars).
You can do a lot in this world with just a barber chair.
Traveling around this country- reflecting at its most sacred monuments, gazing at its most beautiful places, and meeting its people got me through this truly nasty election.
Traveling with hope and faith will also keep me looking up in the days to come, regardless of politics.
Whether your candidate won or lost last night, you could probably use a little healing, and we always need a refill on hope. Take a road trip to somewhere beautiful. Take a road trip to somewhere special. You won’t regret it.
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