Traveling With Sarah – We’re All Different

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Sarah Potzler is a yogi , photographer and avid world traveler. Every year, she leaves her job (they are very understanding of her passion for traveling) and takes off to a new region of the world. This year Sarah is traveling around Easter Asia for 6 months. These are her experiences:


I am in the phase of my journey where I am learning that everyone is different. People who know me may think that I already knew this, that I already practiced acceptance of these inherent differences. Here’s the thing… I was brought up to judge, to compare, and to compete. But at the same time, I was brought up thinking that nothing is really possible if it’s being done alone. I am a natural-born leader; I know how to unify people for a common cause. I’ve been captain of basketball teams, after-school activities, and leading projects in the workplace. When I’m in these leadership roles, I tend to push people. It comes from somewhere positive in me. I have the best intentions to motivate, inspire, and propel. But what I’m beginning to learn is that we can inspire people by living our own life as an example. Often when they get pushed, you are actually pushing them away. I did this recently to a friend. Actually, the pushing was mutual. Sometimes in any sort of relationship dynamic, you learn that you have finished serving each other. Certain relationships reach their end when you have learned all you can from that person. In other relationships, the learning is still continuing.


I am learning that I can’t shake a person—they have to shake themselves when they are ready to be shaken. I am learning that some of these differences are best not to shake; the differences are what makes the person or relationship special. So how do you know when we should embrace these differences with open hearts, and when we should walk away from the differences that may harm us?! Well, the first part of this question I’ll answer. The second part is left up for debate, since we are all intertwined with a purpose and a deeper meaning that we may never understand, but have to realize there is always something to learn from every encounter. I travel with an open heart. And that is why I love traveling. Not just the fellow travelers that I meet, but also the different cultures I encounter.

I travel with an open heart.

I am obsessed with architecture as well, which is a big part of the cultural differences. Currently I am in Cambodia, and prior to that I was in Burma (Myanmar). Both countries have strong religious backgrounds tied to their beautiful architecture. While I was in Burma, I visited Bagan. A beautiful site of 2-3,000 temples scattered across the desert landscape. Each temple being for one family. The site had such a powerful presence; it felt like I was on an energy vortex. I felt that power in Bagan, from the past when they were built, and all the love energy that has dwelt within these temples, to the present time of corruption and tension that the people are feeling in this country. The people are genuine and sweet, their faces and smiles are just incredible. But you feel their pain, according to refugees I have a friend through, they have dispersed the poverty and violence to places where tourism cannot see it.

But while the poverty and pain are still there, tucked away, the people still smile. They are peaceful, and it all derives from their beliefs. Buddhism. I see that Buddhism is more of a philosophy and a way of life; not just a religion. This is how it should be—I believe many religions have taken away a reflective, deductive thought process and replaced it with rules and fear. Buddhism in essence believes in rebirth, the cycling of death and birth, a continuous cycle of grasping and fixating on a self and experiences. This religion is profound, although I still may not understand the hierarchy in sexual differences, such as men being better than women. They still respect women. However, women cannot approach and give Buddha offerings. This happened in Myanmar at one of the temples, the sign clearly stated Ladies are prohibited. While the men gave their offerings, the women were on the floor praying up to Buddha. I internally struggled with this. My whole life, my mother said, “You can do anything, you can do stuff that even a Man can do.” There are many truths to this, because while there are anatomical difference, men and women are both human, are they not? I was traveling with a friend who wanted to cause a ruckus about the situation of not allowing women. I, on the other hand, was curious as to the reasoning behind it. The people there did not speak good English, so I am still on this search. I decided instead to respect it for what is it, even if I don’t fully agree. Above all, it makes me grateful to be born in a Western culture. I was raised in a Catholic setting where this men-have-the-power-women-are-the-servants mentality. I never understood, but I know this has a lot to do with my mother’s progressive thinking.

A local Cambodian man studying to be a tour guide for Angkor Wat asked if I knew what GOD means. I was confused. I replied, “No, I do not.” He told me it is an acronym, G – for Generation, which represents Brahma. O – for Operation, which stands for Vishnu, and D -Destruction which represents Shiva. This all derives from Hinduism, so I guess in the end we are not so different in religion. This begs the question: why do we compete so much? Why does religion cause so many wars?? When will we seek peace and acceptance of our differences?!? Cambodia has had a very dark past, and that darkness still continues. They have had many landmine-related accidents, and there are many people with missing arms and legs here. These amputees are not just victims from landmines, but also from the bombs that Americans dropped in the 1970’s, that are still active. Why? Why do we this??? Why do we cause war based on religion, social, political differences,differences in culture and skin tone, or sexual preference? All these factors make us who we are!! The world would be boring if we all looked the same, there would be nothing to learn. It would be a stagnant, frozen moment in time. Personally, I do not practice religion anymore because I am on a spiritual journey, and this is a way of life. This way of life includes learning to respect others, as opposed to creating wars. I am still learning this, I still catch myself being critical at times, but I am trying. I think that is all a human can do is consciously try. That will feed your soul, it will bring you peace, and it will take us collectively as a human race to the next level.


Do you want to ask Sarah a question about her travels? Let her know in the comments below. :)

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wonderful comments!


Sarah (she goes by Spotzler) is an artist, architect, photographer, writer, music lover, yogi and travel addict. She has been to 20 some countries and 5 continents in the last 3 years. “I still am jaw-dropped everywhere I go…Some more than others. Nowhere is the same… No one is the same. These differences intrigue me, and I try to capture them in my photography, as well as my writing to show the reflective growth traveling has had on me artistically as well as a human being.”

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