Why Do We Travel And Should I Stay At Home?
Why do we travel? Don’t worry this will maybe not turn out cheesy.
Ask any child or adult and your answer will be some variation of “To explore”. But then again what is it that we explore really? Shall we explore that now, you and me?
Clearly a traveler does not literally discover a place since it has been seen by thousands before him and if that’s the case why bother see it at all? What is the force that drives one to head off to some foreigner destination? A clearly illogical one from a practical point of view.
This force bears the name “the self”-one travels because of himself. As to what this means humanity unknowingly splits in two.
The first type we will call simply “tourists” for the sake of simplicity. In this category come all for whom tourist traps have been made. They care not about the place and their “self” is expressed in a little swell of the ego that makes them feel superior in front of their friends and acquaintances. Have you not heard such stories? “That’s us by the Eifel tower”, “I can’t believe you haven’t been to Rome. They had that tower right? I remember when I went there…”
Such stories are fitting for small talk but they lack…depth. And they are dangerous. They make one think that London is perhaps nothing more than Big Ben, that perhaps Barcelona is just Sagrada Familia…examples are too numerous to write down. Such talks are dangerous as they create stereotypes, you heard your mother’s friend talking about how German is rough sounding and now this idea will haunt you unconsciously. Such talks are dangerous as they make you sick of a place you have never visited.
Most importantly such talks are dangerous as they leave no place for doubt, for something to add. It is as if people who travel for the sake of “been there done that” do so with their bodies but their souls remain in one place.
Do not get broody now. We have another type of travelers to discuss. Let’s call them “explorers”.
The “tourists” you can spot by the nonchalant expressions they wear, but the “explorers” smile. Not necessarily a constant grin but their eyes smile even when their lips don’t. They can be anyone- a young man with a huge pack on his back or an old lady strolling down a quiet street. One thing is certain you will know when you see them. I have seen it over and over. The eyes bearing fascination, admiration and thirst for more. And of course that smile. These are the people that travel for the “self” in its true meaning. They experience all that surrounds them in the foreigner climate. Theirs are the stories I’d rather hear, the unique passionate tales which inspire one to experience too. What is it they tell?
I have heard the story of a friend getting lost in Spain and ending up in some narrow backstreets. Her eyes shined as she explained the way the light fell on the cobblestones and how flowers bloomed from the balconies as she heard the sound of guitar close by. Many such stories come to mind as well.
What about you? Have you such experiences? And if so were you a tourist or an explorer? Can you agree with me that if one cannot open himself up to the travel then it is best to remain home? Now I’ll leave you to your thoughts with this quote by Robert Stevenson: “There are no foreign lands. It is the traveler only who is foreign.”
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