This I Believe

Hannah - Overland Park, Kansas
Entered on May 22, 2007

I believe in exploration. I believe that the human mind will never lose it’s sense of youth and fulfillment. I believe that childhood experiences can shape our future.

When I think back to my elementary school years, I can’t quite say that I’d rate a classic game of four square or the legendary chicken nugget day as number one. I remember the first day of 5th grade the teacher asked “Did anyone go anywhere amusing this summer?” Most kids replied in a somewhat irritated tone “I went to my grandmother’s house… in Olathe.” I was proud of my travels. They made me feel like I had received a prestigious award for discovering a new element. I wasn’t the slightest bit hesitant to share my stories with the class. Since My parents brought culture into my life at a very young age, I have been fascinated with life on the road. Weather it be boat, plane, ship or bus, I will never lose my sense of wonder or my love for travel.

You could say I was a lucky kid. My parents remember traveling with us as two chubby and whiney baby twins. They remember playing hot potato while climbing up the steep ladders of ancient cliff dwellings. Sometimes we even ended up in the hands of complete strangers with their bulky tourist cameras that had hideous designs on the straps. Minus the extreme discomfort of a van packed to the max with sleeping bags, toys, suit cases, and a tent the color of an orange construction cone, the two day drives weren’t so bad. The best part of the day was piling out of our vehicle, the one that my older brother called “The Yugoslavia war van”. It had been through spills, chills, and thrills. The fact that my brother and I were adorable in our red and blue cowboy hats, made up for all the chaos we created. My parents took joy out of seeing our faces light up at the sight of “Old Faithful” and the grizzly bears of the famous Yosemite National Park. I am greatly in debt to my parents for carting me around each of the fifty nifty states in just a smidge over a decade.

As I became older, I partially lost my unbelievably low attention span, and traded it in for appreciation and less hectic thoughts. One of the most outrageous places on the face of the planet is Sequoia National Park in California. The trees in the Park are so monstrous that you can’t tell where they begin and end. The tops of the trees must sky rocket into space. It gives you a perspective of how miniature each human being is compared to our vast home we call Earth. Just one glance at the treetops made my life here on earth seem so trivial. I finally got to the point where I figured out the purpose of the dumb wooden posts with silly letters on the top. The information I learned from the signs turned out to be very effective. It made me sound intelligent and I actually learned something new as well. In the past, I only tried to climb on them or poked them with sticks. As my brother and I got older and our parents’ tolerance level began to decrease, we gradually ditched the camping idea and crashed our exhausted butts in nice hotel beds. In my opinion, some of our greatest family trips were spent camping in the peaceful, warm embrace of the quiet outdoors.

As my high school days are coming close to an end, I find myself thinking if I will ever encounter trips as meaningful as the ones I’ve shared with my family. My most recent endeavor brought me to enchanting Italy, with the Kansas City Youth Symphony. I never dreamed that I would one day be traveling on my own in a place so far from home. Now that I will be leaving my family next year, I wonder if I will ever experience such exciting voyages as in my past. Even if I never travel again, I will always treasure the memories from my childhood explorations. I hope that one day I will be able to share some of the same memories with my family too! The life of travel is always one I greatly envy. Exploration is an essential key to the human mind no matter what age!