They say that travel can broaden your horizons.
Well, that’s exactly what happened to me during my recent trip to the Czech Republic.
On my first day in Prague, my husband and I took a day tour around the city in a double decker bus. While taking in all of the incredible splendor of the city, we couldn't help but notice that the city was teaming with Summer tourists on holiday.
But these weren't all American tourists or even European tourists, the tourists were from ALL over the world. This really struck me. We truly live in a global world and globalization is real and happening.
That may seem like a weird realization for someone who lives in California - which is a HUGE melting pot. But Prague was EVEN MORE GLOBAL than California.
Even at our hotel - the Grand Majestic Hotel in Prague (which I HIGHLY recommend), I was amazed at how many languages we heard spoken in the lobby and at breakfast. And yet, it also struck me how much we have IN COMMON.
Everyone had iPhones. Everyone was excitedly planning their sightseeing activities for the day. As a result, everyone was wearing comfy casual clothing. In fact, if you just looked at someone, you couldn't tell where they were from.
Also, everyone was able to find something to eat to nourish themselves at the breakfast buffet. Everyone was chatting with their families and everyone was enjoying their vacation and trying to be happy.
And, even the staff were from all over the world. There were people working there from Vietnam, China, Bulgaria, Poland, and the Ukraine as well as from the Czech Republic.
And, everyone got along!
It was a beautiful reminder of Unity consciousness and hope for the world.
Well, you might say that's a rose-colored view of the situation. What do the locals think?
We asked and what we learned was incredible.
Throughout our trip, we learned about Czech history.
We learned about their ups like in the 14th century when Bohemia had 85% of the world's silver reserves and their enlightened ruler, Charles IV was elected the head of the Holy Roman Empire and built the city and did many things to help uplift the people, when Jan Hus won a battle against the Pope 100 years BEFORE Martin Luther, how the the first Czech Republic was created in 1918 and how they peacefully liberated themselves from the Communists during the Velvet Revolution in 1989.
And, we learned about their downs when the Catholic Hapsburg empire conquered and ruled them for 300 years, when 1/3 of their country (the Sudetenland) was given away to the Germans in 1938 by the English and French during the Munich Accords (and they weren't even invited to the meeting!) and then Germany devoured the rest of the country a year later without any intervention from anyone, and how they lived from Communism from 1949 to 1989 when the Iron Curtain fell on them after WWII.
Despite how many times they have been controlled by foreigners, they are remarkably friendly and open.
We talked to many locals, and most Czechs don't hold any grudges against Germans or Russians or anyone. Surprisingly, many Czechs even speak some German, Russian and English in addition to Czech.
They even are tolerant of the party-going vacations including the rowdy stag party bridegrooms and brides who descend on Prague each weekend.
But the real way to get to know people is to connect with them outside of the tourist areas like we did at the Prague Zoo.
IMHO, the Prague Zoo is definitely a must do, if you visit Prague and like animals.
The zoo itself is in a remote hilly part of town so you are able to see how people really live nearby. You just take the metro and then ride a bus past the residential neighborhood to get to the zoo.
I've been to a lot of zoos in the world and this is one of the better ones like the Singapore Zoo. What I liked best about the zoo was that they had a lot of animals that I had never seen before like a Komodo Dragon, giant salamander, Siberian tiger, Caucasian Mountain Goat, lowland gorilla, etc.
Right after we spent 20 minutes watching this powerful tiger...
We went outside to go see the giraffes.
That's when it happened...
I learned a BIG LIFE LESSON from two Czech children.
Since it was a sunny Summer day at the zoo, there were a lot of Czech families with children. There was no rain in the forecast, but suddenly the heavens opened up and it started to rain as in RAINING IN SHEETS AND BUCKETS.
We were in the middle of a path and there was no shelter in sight. So, we did the best we could by standing under a tree.
While standing there, I saw a young girl who was about 4 or 5 years old come running down the path. There were tears streaming down her face and she was screaming "Oh my God. Help me. Please help me!" She was utterly distraught. Her parents were running a few feet behind her and they were panicked as well.
Less than two minutes after they ran by, another girl came running down the path. This girl was about 6 years old and she was laughing and SINGING while she ran. And, she would occasionally jump in a puddle along the way. Her parents were just behind her and they, too, were smiling, despite being soaked to the bone.
In that moment, I learned a BIG LIFE LESSON.
It's not what happens to you in life that makes you happy. It's how you RESPOND to life that determines how happy you are.
Yes, it rained really hard. But there were three DIFFERENT RESPONSES to it.
I've read the spiritual teachings that say that everything is inherently neutral and we can choose how we respond. But that day in the Prague Zoo really brought the lesson home in a personal way.
It may me realize that we don't have to respond based on past habits and conditioning. We can CHOOSE to view all things as neutral or even look for the opportunity in them. And, we can CHOOSE TO BE HAPPY no matter what happens.
Situations like this happen all the time. Now, I realize that I have a choice. And, I would prefer to choose #2 than #3 like I did at the Prague Zoo.
Fruit for thought...
Does this resonate with you?
If so, which choice do you normally make and which would you rather make?
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