He strikes up a conversation with an older couple, the husband a World War II veteran in town for a reunion. I move closer, anxious to hear what they’re talking about.
“You know,” the traveler says, “you don’t realize how good we’ve got it here until you’re over there.”
What does that mean, “over there?” I look at his tag again; no connecting airport listed, so he must have spent his entire trip in Taiwan, which has a literacy rate of more than 96 percent — certainly not the Third World. Taiwan is a multiparty democracy, so it’s not like he’s just returned from a Banana Republic.
I pull out my notebook and write:
I spent so much of my life trying to escape — to get away from what was my present situation — that I often don’t recognize how wonderful the here and now can be.
Had I returned from a trip to Taiwan, I can’t imagine myself saying something like this man told the elderly couple, though its true that I had a similar, stark revelation after returning from Southeast Asia.
Still, listening to this man’s comments about his trip to Taiwan made me think about the way I view similar opportunities, and why I embrace them the way I do.
I also had to consider the fact that I, myself, don’t often realize just how good we have it here, even when I am here.