Has Traveling Ever Made You Cry?

Travel Truths is an ongoing question series for travel lovers. I ask and answer a travel related question and invite you to answer the question on your blog or on in the comments below. Travel is more then just destinations and experiences, it is a metaphor for life, a state of being, something the heart longs for. Join me as we explore the depths of our relationships with exploration and travel.

Has Travel Ever Made You Cry?

One of the amazing things about travel is that it opens you up.  Things touch you, you notice little things, you are taken out of your comfort zone, sometimes it makes it easier to be who you truly are and feel what you truly feel without all the constraints of what is familiar around you.  We all know that travel makes you smile, has it ever made you cry?

My Answer:

I hate crying in public.  I even hide my tears in the darkness of a movie theater, but when I cried in France I thought I was safe, I thought no one had seen me.  I was standing alone in Van Gogh’s room at the Saint-Paul Asylum in Saint-Rémy and I was just overwhelmed.  Van Gogh had stood where I was standing, he had been there, lived there, painted there.  The view from his window was obstructed with bars which seemed like a tangible reminder of his suffering.  The halls I had walked through he had wandered through.  Suddenly everything I had learned in my art history classes became very real. I don’t know how to explain it, but it would probably be like the equivalent of a music fan getting to touch the keys of a piano that Beethovan played.  All my appreciation welled up and the braniac side of me subsided.  I understood more than I had before that moment, I understood his art in a deeper way that would never have happened if I had not seen where he had lived. 

To add to that, I held within my heart thoughts of a dear friend and artist who would would have given just about anything to see what I was seeing, to feel what I was feeling.  He had passed away the year before and in a way I felt like I was bringing him with me, taking his soul where his body could never go. So I cried.  I stood there in the middle of Van Gogh’s room in the asylum at Saint-Remy and I cried.  I cried for Van Gogh, for the beauty of the Provence landscapes, for my friend, for myself.  I cried out of gratitude and out of sorrow.  I cried because I felt so very lucky to be in France, to walk past olive trees, down tiny dirt paths that sneaked through small neighborhoods and arrive at a place where a great man once sat pondering paintings, pondering beauty, pondering life.

Only when I returned to the gift shop did I notice that the storekeeper could see everything that was going on in Van Gogh’s room via a security camera.  I was embarrassed that a stranger had witnessed this so very personal moment but part of me likes to think that she understood…completely.

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