Entry 37: The Difficulty Factor
In general, things are more difficult when you’re traveling outside your homeland, either a few hundred kilometers into the forest, across a few neighboring time zones, 35,000 frequent flyer miles into the next continent, or even in someone else’s kitchen when you’re rummaging through drawers for that ever-evasive corkscrew. Over time, we all fashion personal comfort zones which contain all of the required amenities and all of the necessary routines to minimize stress. Go beyond these safety borders and you may find that the world can be a different place. This is fine. Sometimes it is healthy to take yourself out of your element and explore the unfamiliar. We learn, we grow and we move forward. Outside your bubble of familiarity, you will also find ‘the difficulty factor.’ Usually, the further you go, the higher the factor (with some exceptions, of course). Take a simple everyday process that you know to be true in your hometown. Then, when you’re that stranger in a strange land, multiply the difficulty level of getting through this process by two, by four, by six, etc. There are many variables working against you including different language, time, traffic, directions, behavior, customs, and the overall ‘foreignness’ of yourself and the place where you are. As stated above, there are exceptions. There are instances when things come off as smooth as Boston butter. Other times, however, even the smallest things must be run through the difficulty factor mechanism. Grocery store purchases, ordering food, making change at the market, getting accurate directions, paying bills, finding a newspaper in your language, not getting ripped off by taxi drivers, emailing, etc. The list will certainly be tailored by each traveler. Make your own schedule. Prioritize. Allow for more time each day to get even the simplest things done. Understand that the wheels of life and day to day transactions are not always as well-greased as you would like them to be.