Shadows engulfing the mundane

While enrolled at THINK Global School, students are encouraged to be creative during the course of their studies and travels. In her reflection “Shadows engulfing the mundane,” 10th grader Danielle R. uses examples from her travels to help explain why a great back story can make a seemingly mundane activity seem exhilarating.

New experiences sell. It is easy to get explorers excited about doing something they have never done before. Seldom does it matter what the experience consists of, for as long as it is novel, it’s practically guaranteed to be exciting, unique, and, in most cases, adrenaline-inducing. It takes a lot more for us to generate the same level of excitement for something we have already done countless times.

Kayaking is one of those things for me.

Which is not to say that I don’t still enjoy it, but when I glance at our recent weXplore itinerary, it just has a hard time competing with things like caving and Hobbiton. It’s a charmed life I live and I am well aware of how unappreciative my gut reactions are at times. But it just goes to show how wrong first impressions can be because as I emerged from a bus packed full of smelly teenagers carrying bags of unwashed clothes, I found myself telling everyone who hadn’t been on my trip about the kayaking. Even more shockingly, I realized that I was referring to the experience my gut had told me was going to be “ordinary” as the highlight of my trip!

So what made it so special? After all, I have already mentioned that it wasn’t exactly the most hair-raising or adventurous activity that we did during our week long trip around New Zealand. In all honesty, I don’t know exactly what did it. But if I had to take a guess, I would say it was the telling of stories that engulfed every rock, cave, and wave in the Bay of Islands.

Things are always more special when you know their back stories. I noticed this same sort of phenomenon in Tanzania when we ate at an organic restaurant towards the end of the trip. The chef gathered us around before we ate and went into detail about every flavor, sauce, and spice that had been considered in the making of our meal. He told us the origins of each food and their part in the diet of the native tribes to the region. Every meal up until that point had been equally if not more delicious, but it was by letting us in on the secret that made that meal a highlight.

As we were being told the stories that shadowed every feature of the region we felt included. We didn’t need to wonder about the tales that blanketed the area because they were described to us in such detail that I could easily retell them to someone who wasn’t present. All vagabonds love new experiences, but sometimes it’s better to be let in on the secrets hiding behind some of the more mundane wonders. Mundane for us, that is.

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