Leaving one’s house, apartment, hotel room, whatever, is an exercise in trust. Hell, sometimes leaving the bed is hard enough. But each day, many times a day, we thrust ourselves out into the world with others and assume we will return at the end of the day unharmed.
How many times do you think about the trust it takes to be on the road with others on the way to work? Trusting the taxi driver to safely get you to your destination without knowing anything about his/her driving record or really even their name? Do you trust the cook and dishwasher at your favorite local restaurant that they've done their job and you aren’t going to get sick after eating there? Trust the doctor, nurse, or pharmacist that they will understand your issues and your needs and be able to help and not hurt you?
It seems in almost every moment of our lives, we need to open ourselves up and trust in our fellow humans that they mean us no harm. I have an incredibly difficult time with this. I tend to be a little (a lot, really) pessimistic about other people’s motives. I automatically assume the stranger who is approaching me on the street wants something from me and will take it by force if needed. I am always guarded and watching everything that is going on around me, ready and waiting to be dealt a blow.
These issues have been brought front and center while traveling. Now, we’ve traveled a ton before this long-term adventure, but somehow this feels different. I am acutely aware of the myriad of ways that I am putting myself out into the world every minute of everyday. I have no home to retreat to in order to feel safe. Sure, I have an apartment or a hotel in which I’m staying, but strangers abound and many people have still access to these locations while we inhabit them. I have nowhere I can go where I am the only one who has access to that space (or the only other people who can access it are those I have invited in). When we leave to go out somewhere, we make sure valuables are put in the safe. Out on the streets we balance our need to navigate on our phones with the fact that there may be someone lurking that would like to steal it or that this communicates the fact that we are a tourist and likely have some money on us for our trip.
Each step we take is a little leap of faith. That may sound like hyperbole, but as we watch the news and read about the random acts of violence, accidents and disease that befalls us humans, I am not sure that it is. Sometimes it can feel like we are under attack from all directions – and not just from those that walk on two feet. I marvel sometimes at how any of us gets out of bed each morning and begin the day’s trust exercise anew.
For me, part of our travel adventure is learning to see the world in a slightly less cynical light. To stop assuming the majority of people around me mean to either do me (or someone else harm) just so they can get ahead in this world or the next. So each day as I get up, leave the room and trust so many people that I will never meet with my transportation, my food, and my general safety, I take a deep breath and tell myself it’s all going to be ok. Today I won’t get food poisoning, I won’t be run over by a car or motorcycle or die in a plane crash. I won’t be killed by some random act of violence. And when bad things happen (such as someone stealing our credit card information and relieving us of thousands of dollars), I try not to over react and take every precaution under the sun to make sure it doesn’t happen again. Because, it likely will. But, it is also likely it won’t. I need to trust that people are trying to do the right thing, that today won’t be the day that they are careless, distracted and “just off”. The number of people we have encountered on this trip tells me the people who are just trying to live their lives as best they can far outnumber the people who are trying to hurt one another in any way possible. In this I must trust.