I’ve spent the last few weeks traveling through four different countries where four different languages were spoken. I feel blessed beyond belief to have had the time, opportunity and means to do this traveling, as traveling has always provided me with a whole new perspective on the world. Traveling enables us to be enriched with others’ culture, cuisine, customs and traditions and it helps us to realize that we are just a small part of a much larger collection in this vast and beautiful universe.
Although I did not speak any of the languages that I was exposed to, and at times there was a definite language barrier, there was one thing that always provided me with comfort and ease along the way and that, was the universal smile. A smile truly is the common language spoken amongst all humans. A smile is a way of saying hello, of saying goodbye, of acknowledging someone’s presence, of saying “it’s o.k.” and of making a personal connection. If I didn’t have the words and my counterparts did not either, we could just simply smile and be understood.
But there are many languages that are spoken in the same way. You may be in the most foreign of places, but the same emotions and experiences are encountered by individuals no matter where you are in the world. There is love and fear no matter where you are. You can witness joy, sadness, frustration, anger and compassion…the list goes on. When witnessing these emotions in other countries, it can help us to realize the connection that exists between all of us. We may have different skin colours, different beliefs, different religions, varying customs, different foods, alternative clothing and actual linguistic variations, but we still speak the same language.
As I looked around upon arrivals and departures at new airports – the language was the same. People cried tears of joy as they reunited with loved ones and people cried tears of despair as they parted with those they loved too. Individuals looked worn and exhausted from their travels, but still exhibited that spark of excitement for what was to come.
Parents from all parts of the world faced the same struggles of keeping their wee ones occupied and happy through the exhaustion of travel. They cradled their babies on the plane and soothed their worries no matter what country we were traveling from or to. They came equipped with books, toys, treats and sometimes bribes to keep the peace!
Looking around at the various cafes and restaurants, nervous first dates were occurring with that initial chit chat and awe over the other person and in the same room, individuals who had gone on their first date 50 years before, were enjoying their date night too. There were endless sightings of hand holding and hugs and kisses from all colours, shapes and sizes of people, all enjoying time spent together either in their own country, or in one that was completely new.
Bumps and bruises were dressed with care by family members when a fall over cobblestone took place and others around made sure the stranger was o.k. too.
Kind offers to take photos for one another (to avoid the selfie route) at the best tourist spots were frequent and common in every country. You may not know how to ask someone in their language to take a photo, but just simply holding up the camera with a nod, seemed to do the trick and enabled couples and families to take home treasured memories captured together.
Homelessness and mental illness was everywhere that we went, whether it was a high class first world country, or the complete opposite. Individuals who had somehow lost themselves, were just looking for some sort of acknowledgement, a reassurance that they were still seen and that they still mattered. Compassion was present from individuals who gave a few coins, or a hello, or who even gave up their own meal to ensure that someone else could eat that day. These acts of kindness are happening everywhere and in every language; the language of love.
One of our favourite nights on our adventure, was when we met a group of locals from the city we were staying in. I received the typical loving eye roll as my partner returned after only five minutes of absence to realize I had done it again. I had completely befriended a huge group of people in another country. The ‘language barrier’ varied, as some spoke broken English and others, none at all. However, that night, we spoke many languages together. We spoke the languages of music and dance, laughter and fun. We spoke the language of curiosity and of newfound friendship.
We can choose to view the world and its ‘differences’ with fear. Or, we can choose to view this world with love. We are all connected whether you realize it or not. If you choose to open yourself to the possibilities of being immersed in another’s culture or country, you might be surprised. You may learn beauty from the few differences that exist, but I also assure you that you will find beauty in what’s very much the same between us.
Share your smile today and keep speaking your language of love with the world.