The other day I was talking with a few people at my current job about coffee. While talking about different flavor profiles of coffee, we started talking about New Orleans. I mentioned that coffee from New Orleans has a unique taste because it contains chicory.
Here’s a quick history lesson. During World War II, all the coffee produced in the US was sent to the war effort, so, as a replacement, a blend of roots using chicory was used in New Orleans. When the war ended, regular coffee was again produced. However, the people of New Orleans had become accustomed to drinking the chicory blend, and they missed its flavor. As such, chicory was added to coffee, and the coffee of New Orleans has this distinctive taste to this day. It’s a great example of how the past informs and impacts the present.
I learned this information during a visit to New Orleans to visit a friend during New Year’s 2016. When I mentioned this trip, one of the women in the conversation said, “You’re pretty well-traveled, aren’t you?”
I paused. I didn’t exactly know what to say. By many accounts, I must admit that I am fairly well-traveled. I’ve seen a handful of the countries of Europe, and I’ve visited a decent amount of the US. However, I really don’t like to boast about it. I certainly am not name-dropping when I mention New Orleans or any other country or city I’ve visited. Traveling has become a part of who I am because it’s been such a large part of my growth within the last 3 years or so. Any time I mention a destination I’ve visited, I do so organically. I often relate different facts or memories with the places in which these facts were learned or these memories formed. I honestly forget, at times, that others around me maybe haven’t had the experiences I’ve had. If ever I come off as prideful or arrogant, I genuinely do not mean to do so. This includes everything I write about my travels here.
Even now, as I write this, I’m utterly humbled by my experience. God has blessed me more than I could ever imagine. I would never want to take for granted the things I’ve seen and done. Neither would I want to boast about them, as if, somehow, I’m better than anyone else due to the places I’ve visited.
And yet, in this conversation, I had to admit that, yes, I have traveled quite a bit. To say otherwise would amount to false humility. If something is true, it’s true. There is no need for me (or anyone else, for that matter), to be ashamed for having done something like traveling.
Here is where I need to be cautious, though. No matter how much I’ve traveled, there’s always someone who has seen or done more than I have. This is a lesson that many of us learn at a young age: don’t boast, because there’s always someone bigger/stronger/wealthier/smarter/etc. I’ve seen this firsthand. I’ve met some people during my travels that would amaze you by the places they’ve been. These people make my own experience pale in comparison. There have been moments when I started to think that I’m some master-traveler, but it never took long before someone else would come along and correct my assessment.
What’s more, constant comparison to others is neither healthy nor helpful. It stunts growth. It makes us feel either unjustly superior or inferior to others. Each of us has different path in life and different skills. I may be reasonably well-traveled, but I’m sorely deficient when it comes to other aspects of life. I’m aware, sometimes painfully so, of these deficiencies, but I try not to let them get me down. Rather, I see them as opportunities to mature and develop.
False humility is unattractive, but genuine humility, based on a recognition of our own shortcomings, is strength. Admit your strengths, but do so with grace and humility. Admit, also, those areas where you may not know as much, and defer to those who do. Learn from them. It can and will lead to personal growth.
And if you ever have the chance to try it, the coffee in New Orleans is great.
A pilgrimage is an intensely personal journey, but it is not one that a pilgrim undertakes alone. I don’t want to ‘talk’ into a vacuum. I want to hear other voices, too. What I’m trying to say is, I want feedback! Have I spoken something to you? Is there something you think I should know? Do you have a question about something I said? Please leave a comment below or contact me at Pilgrim.Brett@gmail.com
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