“All of humanity’s problems stem from man’s inability to sit quietly in a room alone.” Never has a man been as right as Blaise Pascal, whose words resonate more than ever now that we can never quite sit quietly in a room alone without either logging into Instagram or Facebook, or in many people’s cases, without having a quick look on Skyscanner and booking.com for any quick travel deals.
One question that has been haunting me recently was precisely, why do we travel? Why do we choose to leave the comfort of our houses, our hometowns, and venture into the unknown world of languages we cannot understand and habits and norms we cannot conform to? Probably, many at first think of what can be considered a more materialistic view of travelling – that the better our surroundings are, the happier we will be. This can be seen as a more myopic view as we tend to forget that even when we’re found in idyllic settings, we cannot leave ourselves behind – that we’re still prone to colliding with disappointment and grief.
Travelling to rebalance ourselves
It is only through accepting the gap between the romanticised and materialistic view of travelling, and a more psychological view of it that we can truly understand what makes us want to travel. Probably one of the things that struck me most whilst reading on this subject was Alain de Botton’s explanation to why we fall in love with particular countries or cities and not others, that is, that every person could be said to lack some quality or another. This philosopher claims that the places we fall in love with are the result of trying to rebalance ourselves, in trying to make up for that lost quality. Think of your favourite place to visit, think of what makes it stand out compared to other places, and you’re likely to find out which quality you’re missing, or which quality you want to improve or work on. Familiar settings keep us stuck to the person we are in our daily lives, which doesn’t necessarily mean that person is our true self. It is only through exploring different realities that we can meet this true, hopefully, better self.
This is just part one of a series on this same subject. Please come back for the rest of it soon. In the meantime, let me know in the comment section – why do YOU travel?