There’s a joy in traveling. In exploring hitherto unseen regions of the world. Of your town. Of your own home.
You never know what currents may sweep you away, just setting foot outside your door.
The world has become smaller, though, while it’s become bigger. The ever exotic wanderings and allure of the exterior make their way into the commonplace. You can notice the architecture of Europe just down the street.
Asian foods and African garments. The smells of worlds far removed from your expected home life. Something that, just twenty years ago, maybe you couldn’t experience without travel, now you are able to find it with the click of a button.
Google, take me to Ethiopian food.
Hey Siri, where’s the nearest Thai restaurant?
You never know what you lose when everything is available to you.
You don’t get to experience the joy of surprise. When was the last time you just took a walk around town, looking at the things that are around you? Did you even notice? Or were you glued to your phone the entire time?
It’s hard to gauge, really. What is the point of travel? Of exploration.
Is there something unique to the human experience that we long for avenues that are far different from our own? Do we seek the exotic, in an attempt, as de Botton puts it, “to find that which we recognize in ourselves but don’t get at home?”
Travel is unique. It is an experience for all of us. It’s something that anyone can enjoy if they are brave enough to try out the movements required.
Step on, clothe up. Winter wear for cold, or something cooler in hotter climes.
Step two, walk outside.
Keep walking. That’s it. Now you’re traveling. If your eyes are open, and you yourself are open, you can experience the joys of travel. Of exploration. Because travel and exploration should be synonymous.
There should be no instance when one travels just to get to another point. It’s a sacrilege.
On a recent plane ride, I myself couldn’t help but look at the other passengers. Wondering if they were LA residents, or just passing through. Were they coming home, or leaving. Did they seek some greater adventure off the plane, or was this it? The last ride before the adventure came to an end.
I don’t know! But I can guess. I can see who was tired from their journey. Who was excited. Who wanted more, and who just wanted to stay in bed.
The bed part I can understand. Sometimes it’s easier to just stay in the bed.
Several years ago, as I traveled through Dublin city, I stayed three nights in a hostel. The entire second day I stayed in my bunk, possibly fighting off the hangover from the night before, or the exhaustion of the long hours spent walking during the preceding days, or, perhaps, I just needed a break to decompress. To step away from the process of traveling, and just be in the space.
We sometimes are so focused on the forward motion, we forget to be present. Again, it’s the same as looking at the phone, face down, ignoring the surroundings you think are familiar because, in your mind, you’ve seen them all before.
But have you even looked? Is it possible you missed something? The quintessential element that makes it what it is?
Next time you make your way on whatever perambulations you feel the need to commit to, look around. Enjoy the scenery. See what can be seen, hear what can be heard.
Be present. Be here, now, as they say.