Are you a right-brained traveler?

Monday, February 20th, 2012. Filed under: Art Lefthandedness Myths & Legends
To Michelangelo, the left hand meant life.

To Michelangelo, the left hand meant life.

I didn’t spend a lot of time thinking about being lefthanded while growing up. Raised in a house full of righthanders, I simply adapted to  unfriendly can openers and blister-causing scissors and got on with life.

Life as a lefty, though, meant drawing a certain amount of flack. And flack is fuel for stubborn individualism.

For 1 in 10 people (a number consistent through history and all cultures), being lefthanded (and thus predominantly right-brained) has generally meant being chided for daydreaming, considered clumsy, nonconformist, possibly criminal, definitely different.

Right-brainers live in the vivid moment

Right-brainers live in the vivid moment.

Reading Rik Smits’ book The Puzzle of Lefthandedness (2011) makes me glad I wasn’t born to a tribe that crippled lefty children’s dominant hands with fire to force them to use their right, or live in a time that deemed lefthandedness “sinister” and equated it with magic and witchcraft. Who wouldn’t be a recluse or rebel if everyone you met made the sign of the cross?

Exercising your left brain is definitely a good idea too.

Exercising your left brain is definitely a good idea too.

The book’s a great romp through history, superstition and science. Smits concludes that swimming against the tide of  90% of humanity in fundamental ways of thinking makes lefthanders self-reliant and independent, attributes that made me a determined solo traveler while still in my teens.

Work – much of it secretarial (the QWERTY keyboard is one of the rare tools that favors lefthanded users) – had one purpose: to fund missions to see my personal grails. Wide-eyed and (in retrospect) remarkably unworried, I pursued my obsessions like Super Mario, leaping obstacles as they popped up in an era before the safety net of cellphones, internet access, ATMs or easy overseas dialing for a parental bailout.

These days, I plan more but can still find trip inspiration in a single painting, building, artist bio, old photo, film, fairytale illustration, myth, legend, even the occasional nursery rhyme.

But when it comes to travel, left-brainers may be better at making it happen. Logic, time management, finance and planning skills go a long way towards turning an idea into reality. And coming up with ways to turn costly “vacations” into viable travel-related businesses.

But do right-brainers (and you don’t have to be lefthanded to be predominantly right-brained) get more out of it? 

Yeah, baby! (Ad by Shalmor Avnon Amichay)

Yeah, baby! (Ad by Shalmor Avnon Amichay)

I believe travel is addictive because it stirs and satisfies the creative, emotional, sensation-seeking right brain in all of us. Every step we take frames new pictures. New smells, tastes, even atmospheric conditions, rivet our attention in the moment. The rocking of a train, even the disorienting twilight of an overnight flight through multiple time zones, eases us into a meditative state that quiets our thoughts, makes our minds more receptive, allows us to feel, not just observe.
Travel is a direct ticket past your corpus collosum into the vivid, dreamy realm of your right brain. Whether you maintain permanent residence there or just visit from time to time, it’s a groovy place to find yourself.

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