By Luis Garcia

Sometimes, the only way for me to get perspective is to escape to a new place and make it my own. I recently took a trip to Seattle in the hopes of clearing my head, but ended up getting so much more than a fresh outlook. Seattle helped me realize how small most mortal problems are, and how important it is to look up and appreciate the vast beauty of the world.

There is so much to see and do in Seattle, including many very relaxing, very unique options, such as participating in a spiritually nourishing tea ceremony at East-West Chanoyu Center. The tea ceremonies are so calming that they have a meditative quality about them.

I started my own expedition by simply picking a direction and walking. Sometimes I’ll walk specifically toward a landmark to see what lies along its path, and other times I’ll simply pick a direction and just go. For Seattle, I chose to walk toward the water. Though it had rained the entire night before, by the time I made it to the pier the sun was shining and the weather was warm and breezy. I decided to take the Bremerton ferry and found a cozy spot to myself with a perfect view: mountains in the distance, sparkling blue water ahead.

I often wear my headphones when I travel, but I decided for the ferry ride I would completely immerse myself in the scene. Down the line, there were two young children who were clearly experiencing the ferry for the first time and could hardly contain their excitement. It was impossible not to smile at their joy, but I think what I loved the most was their genuine awe at the natural beauty around them. They were amazed to hear how tall the mountains in the distance really were, and how even though it was sunny where we were, their peaks were topped with snow. I realized that it really was something special, and it wasn’t just because it was pretty to look at. These colossal, ancient mountains had seen thousands of years of history yet still stood tall. They had adapted to their environment and withstood countless tests of strength. It was truly humbling to consider. In comparison, anything I considered a challenge seemed laughable.

A friend had suggested I visit Volunteer Park, especially so I could check out the view from the water tower. She had told me the view was worth the work, what she didn’t mention was the part about it being 107 steps to the top! But it truly felt like working so hard to get the view was a gift — when I finally made it to the top, it truly took my breath away! It was as if the rain from the night before had turned the leaves and grass greener, the flowers brighter. It was easy to see why they call it Emerald City! From my spot in the tower, I felt like only a small piece of a massive, beautiful world. And something about that was really comforting, even empowering. I realized how small I really am in the grand scheme of life and the universe, that even my biggest mistakes would barely register on a grand scale.

I spent the rest of the day exploring the park and reconnecting with nature. It was as if the air was different — lighter even. I suddenly couldn’t remember what had made me feel so overwhelmed that I had to flee home, but I was grateful for it because it had been years since I had felt so relaxed. Seattle helped me find my center and peace of mind in a way I never expected, and all it took was a day surrounded by its beauty. In fact, the city has made such an impact on me that I’m thinking of moving here for good! 

I’ve been to many different cities across the country, but there’s just something special about Seattle. It’s rejuvenated my spirit and made me feel fearless and free — and for that I will always be thankful!

Luis Garcia is a nomad at heart. He never likes to stay in the same place for too long. He co-created with a group of friends to share his travel stories and advice. Through the site, he hopes to encourage other young people to leave the comfort of their hometown and explore the world.