How has travel grown your understanding of a place or person?

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.

How has travel grown your understanding of a place or person?

You can read a thousand books, watch a hundred movies, talk to experts or spend your time imagining scenarios, but there is nothing like visiting an actual place to grow your understanding of it, to make history come alive, or simply to feel the deep soul of a culture inside your heart. How has travel changed or grown your understanding?

My Answer:

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 to me 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, the story of Van Gogh was no longer just pages of black and white words to be flipped through nonchalantly while memorizing dates.

All I could feel was gratitude. The braniac side of me took a back seat to something more intuitive, less rational. 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 and walked where he walked. I can not ever know what he thought about during his long days in the asylum but I do know the way the field behind his room looked in the afternoon light, how the branches of the olive trees nearby looked exactly the way he had painted them and how calming it was to be in that little room on the second floor protected and hidden away.

What I know of Van Gogh now I can not put into words, it is as if his soul had whispered to mine. Travel did that for me and for that I am so very grateful.

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How has travel grown your understanding of a place or person?

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