What a police chase in Cambodia taught me

Palmer here! Wanna hear about one of the scariest moments of my life? I was in Cambodia being chased by the police… actually, I probably shouldn’t go into that story here with my mom reading these and all… ????????

(Note from Mama Kerry: Palmer, is this the same night that you jumped from the roof of one building onto a balcony of another and broke your wrist? Mmm hmm…. It’s terrifying having the safety of my beloved kid in the hands of a reckless teenager, but there you were in Cambodia, all on your own during that escapade. Anyway, back to you, Palmer…..)

As I reflected on this crazy story from my time backpacking through southeast Asia, it got me thinking about how the world can feel like a pretty scary place as you start to explore beyond what you are familiar with. Fear of the unknown can cause us to keep the rest of the world at an arm’s length.

The unfortunate thing about this is that there is SO MUCH BEAUTY in the unknown. My time backpacking was sprinkled with scary moments, sure, but it was also absolutely jam-packed with beauty and wonder and so. much. learning.

I think the biggest thing that stops people from doing these things is fear.

I am not talking about great-white-shark kind of fear. I am talking about the fear that drives us to steer clear of something because it makes us uncomfortable. I know I am guilty of this.

People can go their whole lives without leaving their cultural comfort zone. And a lot of times, they let assumptions they have made about others and the world beyond theirs feel like an experienced truth. In reality, if they start to go beyond their own world, they realize the vibrance that exists in learning and exploring other walks of life.

To be clear, that doesn’t have to be through travel. It can be going to a restaurant that serves food you’ve never tried or going to a multi-cultural event in your town. It can be going on a volunteer trip to a part of your city or state where you see people living lives very different from yours.

Why do it though? It’s not essential right? That’s true, it certainly isn’t. But I think inviting your kids into this space of exploration will help them more fully embrace changes in life that might scare them. It will help them feel more comfortable pursuing passions where there are many unknowns. Most of all, it will give them a greater understanding of the world beyond theirs.

When I was a kid, my parents did things like take us to restaurants that served food that felt very foreign to me, and even though I preferred Macaroni Grill and probably put up a fuss, they had us go. They made a point on family vacations and road trips to expose us to different cultures. They signed us up for volunteering. These are all reasons that now I feel a profound sense of connection and curiosity about the rest of the world. Shoestring backpack through Asia and be okay sleeping at $3 hostels where it’s just a pile of straw and sheets? No problem. Try new restaurants? Easy peasy. Be comfortable sitting down with someone from an entirely different background? Sign me up.

I am so grateful my parents made it a priority to help us feel comfortable exploring and experiencing the world beyond ours. I hope that you can find ways to do your own version of this with your family.

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Palmer Skudneski
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