By Taylor Squires
I have always been intrigued by what a bit of travelling can do to a person: how it can shape the way they think or how it can destroy some of the preconceived notions they might have had prior to visiting a certain place and interacting with the people who live there.
One of my favourite quotes by Gustave Flaubert is: “Travel makes one modest. You see what a tiny place you occupy in the world.”
I’ve always found solace in that, especially when I’m stressing about petty things that most likely won’t matter in ten years time.
However, lately I’ve been reflecting upon that quote in a different way, particularly when I travel to a new place that I’ve never heard of or gave much thought to before.
For most, when we think of travelling the world, we think of all of the places that are well-known and talked about frequently like France, Italy, Thailand, Japan, Australia and The Bahamas, just to name a few.
But in the past eleven days, I have had the opportunity to explore countries that are somewhat off-the-radar and to my surprise, the experience has enabled me to feel modesty on a whole new level.
The entire trip consisted of two main cruises through the Baltic Sea. The first cruise began in Stockholm and finished in Riga, which is the capital of a Northern European country called Latvia. It was a place that I was looking forward to visiting because I had absolutely no idea what to expect. I didn’t know much about Latvian culture or even what Riga had to offer.
When I arrived, I instantly noticed that it was a patriotic holiday. The streets were filled with Latvian flags and there were a lot of people dressed in special military attire. There were beautiful ceremonials taking place at the main square and it was easy to see how proud the Latvians were of their country, a place that up until a week ago, I knew nothing about.
The whole ordeal made me feel extremely insignificant but in the absolute best way.
The Earth is filled with people experiencing life and at times, it’s easy to shift our focus solely on what is happening in our own lives.
That being said, if there’s one thing I’ve learned, it’s that it is important, in times like that, to take a step back and remember how truly tiny our place on this gigantic planet is.
Editor’s note: This will be Taylor’s final piece with The Lambda, as Taylor will be returning to Canada before the next issue publishes.