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#12: On travel
I read Vagabonding by Rolf Potts this week. I made a ton of highlights and wanted to share some of my favorites.
I used to (unconsciously) treat all my weekends and vacations as an escape from work, until I realized I only have one life — work is a part of it, not separate from it.
The book starts with this premise:
This book views long-term travel not as an escape but as an adventure and a passion—a way of overcoming your fears and living life to the fullest.
Adventure starts prior to departure.
Work is how you settle your financial and emotional debts—so that your travels are not an escape from your real life but a discovery of your real life.
Those who view travel as merely an escape miss out on its true potential.
What nobody bothered to point out, of course, is that purchasing a package vacation to find a simpler life is kind of like using a mirror to see what you look like when you aren’t looking into the mirror. All that is really sold is the romantic notion of a simpler life, and—just as no amount of turning your head or flicking your eyes will allow you to unselfconsciously see yourself in the looking glass—no combination of one-week or ten-day vacations will truly take you away from the life you lead at home.
As I alluded to a few weeks ago, with so much information online, traveling may not offer hidden wisdom, but it does give us direct experiences that can turn information into knowledge.
To read about such cultural differences is one thing, but to experience them is quite another. After all, cultural identity is instinctive, not intellectual…
As an example, we may experience time differently.
Vagabonding is about not merely reallotting a portion of your life for travel but rediscovering the entire concept of time. At home, you’re conditioned to get to the point and get things done, to favor goals and efficiency over moment-by-moment distinction. On the road, you learn to improvise your days, take a second look at everything you see, and not obsess over your schedule.
Also by Vagabonding sage Ed Buryn,
By switching to a new game, […] time becomes the only possession and everyone is equally rich in it by biological inheritance. Money, of course, is still needed to survive, but time is what you need to live. So, save what little money you possess to meet basic survival requirements, but spend your time lavishly in order to create the life values that make the fire worth the candle.
Over-intellectualizing is one of the reasons we may never “find a good time” to travel. It’s only afterwards that we recognize the significance of those moments — not before.
[…] you’ll discover that “adventure” is a decision after the fact—a way of deciphering an event or an experience that you can’t quite explain.
A few more quotes I like:
Learn to treasure your worst experiences as gripping (if stressful) new chapters in the epic novel that is your life. “Adventurous men enjoy shipwrecks, mutinies, earthquakes, conflagrations, and all kinds of unpleasant experiences,” wrote Bertrand Russell. “They say to themselves, for example, ‘So this is what an earthquake is like,’ and it gives them pleasure to have their knowledge of the world increased by this new item.”
“Tourists don’t know where they’ve been,” observed Paul Theroux in 1992, “travelers don’t know where they’re going.”
People say that what we are all seeking is a meaning for life. I don’t think this is what we’re really seeking. I think what we’re seeking is an experience of being alive. —Joseph Campbell, The Power of Myth
I hope these tidbits are helpful no matter where you are.
Have a great week,
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