I could describe how a mango tastes, but it’s nothing compared to tasting it yourself.

Outside of Kanchanaburi, Thailand is a water park. Those huge complexes with giant water slides and tubes. We looked up reviews online and they were “mixed.” I mention mixed because this is what one of our 11-year old boys said was the reason he didn’t want to go.

Think about what we would miss out on if we never did anything because the reviews were mixed? Think about how dull our lives might be if we only did things that got five stars? What if we only went places that had reviews and a certain number of stars?

The experiences of others can be used as a guideline, but your experience is the only one that really matters.

I could describe the hot jungle of Thailand. I could tell you all about the skin of an elephant that we scrubbed with a wooden brush (no bristles, just like a rough piece of bark). Maybe I could try to get across the serenity of the temple where the monks were chanting. I’d never do justice to those occasional whiffs of sewer stink that you get walking around town.

You can read about it. Listen to it. Watch it.

But there is no substitute for doing it yourself.

Trying, failing, getting back up. Tasting, not liking, spitting out or savoring each bite.

  • You can take a workshop about writing a book, but until you write a book, you won’t know.
  • Thai cuisine tastes good in your local restaurant and cookbook explains it all, but get a mortar and pestle to grind up some hot chilies until your eyes water and the chef tells you you’re doing it all wrong and then you know.
  • The best documentary about a place doesn’t give you a fraction of the senses you’ll experience within minutes of walking out of an airport.

I write this today to remind myself to Just Step Out of the Door, take the path a little less traveled, experience it for yourself. It doesn’t have to be a faraway exotic jungle, it only has to be new to you.

Sure, read about it, study it, and even plan it, but then you have to hunker down and do it. There is no substitute.