We never want to believe that there is a special place where we can withdraw from everyday life. Each day we’re faced with an avalanche of rush hour traffic or sirens blaring through the heavy city air. We’re lost in a sea of people avoiding eye contact and we’re bombarded with advertisements whether we’re walking through town or skimming through Insta-Ad. And by Insta-Ad I mean Instagram.
Some days are maddening and we simply want to check out of the routine. There must be a magical place in this world calling our name, calling us away from our habitual lifestyles. Daydreams lead us to an idyllic place. Then, snap! A text message arrives or a pencil drops. Our gaze reluctantly drifts away from the window, our virtual break. We’re jolted back to the routines that keep us from where we really want to be.
A lot of people don’t want to believe there is a place where we can go to escape the rigorous demands placed on us every day. We all to often choose to ignore the wide-open door leading elsewhere, and instead live vicariously through fictional characters beamed onto our televisions or computer screens. That’s what television and the internet are – escapism. I often call both the biggest black holes of our time.
Perhaps the outskirts of town is a foreign land as you get tangled up in everyday life. When I’m home, I think driving ten miles is a day trip and I should pack a lunch. Maybe even the thought of hopping on a plane seems like more hassle than it’s worth. Air travel isn’t easy today with security demands and oblivious fellow travellers.
It’s easy to get wrapped up in our day to day routines. I always think if I stay home and work at my desk, I’ll forget how alive I feel when I travel. The urge to go anywhere foreign will go away. I stayed home in 2017 and I’ve never felt so empty in my life. There wasn’t one positive thought in my mind. There wasn’t anything I could look forward to. I won’t go as far as saying I was depressed but definitely unhappy.
That’s not true of everyone, I realize. Instead, so many people want to live uncomplicated and simple lives staying put. Some want to swim in their reality and remain in their safety zone. But, while swimming through it, you miss out on so many idyllic landscapes, vibrant cultures and amazingly handsome architecture waiting to be discovered.
Yes, you get a glimpse of another world by watching television or surfing the internet without realizing at times there is no substitute for travel. In fact, no matter how much you have learned in a classroom, there is no better education than experiencing a land beyond your own country. The sounds of Jamaa el-Fna, clouds swirling around your head in the Himalayas or the colourful sight of a ceremony in Bali can’t be replaced by television, an Instagram photo or a YouTube video.
The truth is this – travel spins us around in more ways than we can imagine. Travel teaches each of us life’s lessons we can never find in a book or screen. It shows us what is really important in life especially if you’re immersed in a foreign culture. The values and issues we might ignore on any given day are in our face typically accompanied with a genuine smile and a warm hello. And even deeper, travel shows us all the parts of ourselves that are buried beneath the smothering routine we subject ourselves to.
For in travelling to a truly foreign place – a place we don’t recognize as home, we accordingly travel to tastes, and sounds and states of mind and hidden feelings that we’d otherwise have reason to visit. Travel is a quick way to keep our minds energized and awake. Thoughts become clearer and our breaths deeper.
And if travel is like love, and I believe it is, it is mostly because we become aware of ourselves and our world. We are mindful, receptive, undimmed by familiarity and ready to be transformed. That is why, like the best love affairs, special travel experiences never really end.