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November 11, 2011

How travel made a rock star humble

Rock star Henry Rollins in concert with the Rollins Band

Henry Rollins in concert with the Rollins Band. Photo: Pelle Sten / Flickr

Rock stars aren’t exactly known for being modest, peaceful types.  In fact, we sort of expect them to be the opposite.  On a refreshing change of pace, World Hum had this Interview with Henry Rollins.  The former lead singer of the band Black Flag, Rollins decided to pursue his wanderlust.  What he saw changed his outlook entirely.

A lot of us can relate to Rollins’ feelings about going abroad being a transformational experience.  This is especially true for that first trip, where you start as one person, but come back after the trip as someone else.  Rollins describes it this way:

You come back humbled and you bring that into your life. It’s made me much more tolerant of other peoples—and I’m not saying I used to be a misogynist, or I used to be a racist, that was never my problem. But I can be extremely headstrong, impatient, rude. Like, “Hurry up, man. What’s your problem? Get out of my way.” That sentiment comes easy to me. Going to these countries, you realize none of that is necessary, none of it’s cool, it’s nothing Abraham Lincoln would do, and so why are you doing it? Those are the lessons I’ve learned.

There is a certain irony in that we go overseas to see a foreign country.  What happens is that we end up seeing ourselves, and our home country, in a whole new way.  When you’re able to see first-hand the impact your country has on another one, the results are unforgettable.

Rollins also took the opportunity to give a message to the next generation.  His words, his passion, are spoken like a true vagabonder:

I beg young people to travel. If you don’t have a passport, get one. Take a summer, get a backpack and go to Delhi, go to Saigon, go to Bangkok, go to Kenya. Have your mind blown. Eat interesting food. Dig some interesting people. Have an adventure. Be careful. Come back and you’re going to see your country differently, you’re going to see your president differently, no matter who it is.  Music, culture, food, water. Your showers will become shorter. You’re going to get a sense of what globalization looks like.

How did travel change you?  Please share your experiences in the comments.

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Category: Notes from the collective travel mind


One Response to “How travel made a rock star humble”

  1. Russ Mease Says:

    I felt this way after a 6 month backpacking trip I took to Europe, northern Africa and China back in 2005. I had been over-seas when I was younger but never on my own with so much time. When I came back I could see so much more clearly that the USA was not the center of the universe, or even of the earth. I could understand people’s criticizms or our international policy and our tendency to be close-minded about other cultures. I love Henry Rollin’s advise to travel and “Have your mind blown.” That is exactly what happens, you have no choice to be ignorant anymore. If only it was a requirement of all US politicians to travel at least two years over-seas…

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