Here are the numbers as reported by a recent CBS news article: 7 years, 23 countries, 43-foot sailboat, 30,000 miles.
And now, the Crafton family of Alaska is back home, looking to re-integrate into life.
7 years ago, psychologist Tom Crafton and nurse Kathy Crafton left their jobs, took their 3 kids, and headed for the high seas. They visited other cultures, met other people, and stood on distant shores in an effort to become closer as a family, and more well-rounded as individuals. Panama, Mexico, New Zealand…all theirs for the exploring, like a thick novel from the 19th century.
Most of us struggle to get by in this world. Maybe we live in one country or only know one set of traditions. Perhaps we are armchair experts on others, even though in actuality, we have never studied about them or met them.
Then there’s the Craftons.
I’m not going to say they are now experts on world cultures simply due to a 7 year excursion (although, judging by descriptions of their sleeping quarters, I’m sure they are now experts on each other), but I can say they are probably a little wiser to the ways of others than most. Why? Well, because they were there.
Assuming the Craftons’ story of travel is true and accurate (and not just a ploy for Tom to sell his surely-forthcoming book), they can’t help but be a little wiser. If your feet have touched the soils of others, and you have even minimally engaged a foreign culture, it changes you somehow. It smooths out the rough edges. It provides some perspective. And, in the end, the Craftons’ journey benefits us all. It means there is now a family unit of 5 that has something terrific under their belt. It means there are more stories of other in the world. There is a little more cross-cultural understanding.
There is, maybe, a little more tolerance.
You don’t have to get on a boat and sail around the world to learn a little more about others. Go to a local festival. Head to the travel section of the library. Take a class. Shake a hand. Join a club.
At the end of the day, all we have is humanity. All we have is the human experience. All we have is the blood in our veins and the breath in our lungs.
All we have is each other.