“Why do you go away? So that you can come back. So that you can see the place you came from with new eyes and extra colors. And the people there see you differently, too. Coming back to where you started is not the same as never leaving.” ― Terry Pratchett, A Hat Full of Sky
Wandering is often oversold and romanticized by bloggers, writers and lifestyle enthusiasts. You flip through any magazine or newspaper; there is at least one article promoting the advantages of running away from the drudgeries of daily life to some far off land.
The articles will list numerous advantages of exploring the world such as gaining clarity in life, making you happy, etc. The write-ups will coax and manipulate you into believing that your life will get a sense of purpose and direction once you pack your bags and head on some exotic expedition.
In my life, I have done enough of gallivanting partially because of my work. I don’t have deep pockets and can’t afford to go on global expeditions like others of my and younger generation. I am a person with modest means, and I think I am truly blessed that I could travel many parts of this beautiful planet.
During my travels, I have seen vast seas of humanity in Banaras to Shanghai and large patches of barren land in Arizona. I have witnessed the migration of monarch butterfly in Northern America and have chased storms in Australia. I have seen lush green countrysides in England and the ocean dotted with tiny postcard islands in Thailand. I have traversed through peaks and passes in the Himalayas where hermits lived and have seen casinos littered around the streets of Macau and Las Vegas. But haven’t seen it all. The list to see the diverse destinations to look at the world is endless. And yet I am not even adding the space travel to infinity and beyond to this list.
But what does traveling to all these places exactly mean? Is it about knowing people, experiencing cultures, food, and rituals and seeing the new and unknown? Is it about spending some time with your friends and family? Or is it about running and escaping from the monotonous life filled with dissatisfaction and unhappiness.
The glossy images of exotic places sell us an emotional dream of excitement and passion for traveling. To hear the voice of my heart, they tell me that seeing the northern lights in Norway and or some deep galaxy is a must.
The abundance of money and ease of traveling by any chosen means has made it easier to go to any part of the world. Hopping from one city to another has become a pastime for people who are restless and bored. Traveling at this fast pace with the help of internet tour companies is not just exhausting, it also creates a tremendous pressure of taking those excellent photos for Facebook and Instagrams. Instead of letting the vastness and deepness of Canyons and valleys sink within, we are in a rush to capture everything on our phones and cameras. Instead of watching sunsets and sunrise with our own eyes, we get busy behind that tiny phone window. We tend to capture the moments and instead of enjoying it.
Instead of enjoying the taste and texture of local food, bonding and engaging with native people and getting immersed in the local culture we often get lost in the speed of travel. As we have to cover all the destinations in a city mentioned in our guidebook and check all the points on our to-do list.
But we often forget that running away is not a solution. The joy and thrill of traveling are momentary. While exploring the outer landscapes, we have to make sure that our inner landscapes also change.
The whole purpose of traveling should be to find a new you, a better you. Your journey should aid in self-development otherwise you running in the same rat race. Only the venue has changed. Instead of running at the workplace, you are now running on the road.
Next time, find your true self in the wanderlust!