Why we travel

Recently, as my impending departure draws ever closer, the part of me which doubts has been screaming ever louder "Why are we doing this?!?"  Not because I do not want to, but because it is too huge a commitment to make without knowing why I am doing it.

It is so easy to dismiss this query with an entire eulogy about how beautiful the world is, about the places I'll go, the people I'll meet, the experiences I'll have and even the possibilities for me to make some small difference in this world.  But these are merely reasons why travel is rewarding, none of them are the actual reason why I want to, need to, travel.

It would be equally easy to propose that I am aiming to find happiness, or a purpose in life, or some other personal attainment.  But these are merely side effects of the travelling process, none of them are the reason why I must travel either.   

And then on my trawling through the internet one day, I found a man called Pico Iyer, and his piece entitled "Why we travel".  Go, read it.  It is worth the time.  Better to go and read that piece than finish reading this blog post!

The man, coincidentally writes with a genius like nothing (literally nothing) I have ever read.  You can read more of his fabulous work here

Now this piece is 12 years old, and yes, some of it does perhaps feel slightly dated, and some of it is perhaps so personal to Iyer that it will not be particularly universal.  But the core message resonates clearly through the piece and makes perfect sense to me.

I have long believed that love is the driving force behind those aspects of life which make us human, the things that take us mentally, physically and existentially beyond the constraints of our evolution.  This is not some fluffy naive philosophy, I am referring to love as a driving force for conflict, hate and greed as much as I am to a force behind happiness, selflessness and relationships.  But good or bad, love is ultimately the reason why, or at least the reason for our conscious mind.

So why travel?  Because to travel is to love.  To love in a way which a static life could never fully elicit from me.

As Iyer says...

"And if travel is like love, it is, in the end, mostly because it’s a heightened state of awareness, in which we are mindful, receptive, undimmed by familiarity and ready to be transformed. That is why the best trips, like the best love affairs, never really end."


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