A Traveler’s Journal – Lessons Learned Abroad (Vol. 8)

After five straight days of tireless traveling and nonstop sightseeing through the British countryside, we finally arrived in Edinburgh where we would have two full days to relax and do whatever we wanted. It was like we had been in school all week and now it was the weekend! I was pretty much at maximum capacity as far as cathedrals went and it was going to be nice not having to wake up at 6 am to catch the bus. We arrived in force at St. Christopher’s Hostel and quickly took control of the place. We had become a team of traveler’s bound by our backpacks.

After dinner that night, we all met back at Belushi’s Karaoke Bar for drinks. I’m not sure what was in the air that night, but for some reason everyone decided to let loose. Five days ago we were all total strangers and now here we were, old friends drinking the night away and singing karaoke together. Now I’m a horrible singer and an even worse dancer, but I somehow ended up doing both that night. However, I don’t think I would have ever gotten up to dance in the first place if it hadn’t been for Nolan.

Nolan was a 21 year old Canadian from Ottawa and was also the youngest guy in the group. And up until tonight, he had also been the quietest. For the first few days one of the girls on the bus didn’t even know his name and simply referred to him as “Canada.” He didn’t seem to mind much. He played right back at her and simply called her “Australia.” We had only had a few conversations up to now, but I knew there was more to Nolan than he was letting on. I saw a bit of Nolan in myself, a little quiet at first, but quite talkative once you get to know him. And I must admit, I never really got to know him, but probably more so than most did. I guess what I saw most in him was potential.

'Canada' gets a kiss from 'Australia' for his wonderful dancing skills.

‘Canada’ gets a kiss from ‘Australia’ for his wonderful dancing skills.

So while the whiskey was flowing and the night still young, Nolan stepped up to the plate. Most of the girls were up dancing, while most of the guys were sitting and drinking. I, on the other hand, was capturing every drunken moment with my camera. Just then, one of the girls grabbed me up on the dance floor as I was trying to take her picture. I just laughed it off and retreated back into safety. The next I knew, the same girl had pulled Nolan up on the dance floor, and he wasn’t objecting. There he was, Mr. Quiet, the only guy brave enough to get up there and dance and show the girls a good time. Now I know I said I was a bad dancer, but Nolan wasn’t much better, in fact, he may have been worse. But nonetheless, he was up there and I was sitting down here. It got me to thinking about a few things. What was I so afraid of? I know exactly what I was afraid of. I had been guilty of it before, sitting on the sidelines making fun of the guy who can’t dance, because when in truth, I was the one who couldn’t dance. I was allowing myself to be a victim of my own crime. But not tonight. Nolan had inspired me to swallow that thing we call pride and to get up there and dance as badly as I wanted to, knowing that anyone who made fun of me was a lesser man than I. And so I did. And that was all it took. Before long, everyone was dancing. Pride no longer existed on the dance floor. It was a small victory for white men without rhythm. And oh how we basked in the glory!

That night as I was up there dancing with all my friends, I came to realize something. If only we could stop wasting so much time judging others and just pay more attention to doing whatever it is we wanna do, then we’d probably do whatever it is we wanna do much better than we are doing it now. This thing we call pride will eat us up to the day we die if we don’t let go of it. It may even get you killed if you find yourself fighting for a cause that you don’t even believe in. I am proud to be an American. But never should we be so proud that we go blindly into battle for an unknown cause. That’s just stupid.