Monday, November 29, 2010

Why We Travel

The classic essay on why we travel by Pico Iyer explores the idea of self, home, beliefs and perspective that we, as travelers, carry with us when we travel.

“A man never goes so far as when he doesn’t know where he is going.”
On the issue of tourist vs. traveler, Iyer wrote: Though it’s fashionable nowadays to draw a distinction between the “tourist” and the “traveler,” perhaps the real distinction lies between those who leave their assumptions at home, and those who don’t. He continued Among those who don’t, a tourist is just someone who complains, “Nothing here is the way it is at home,” while a traveler is one who grumbles, “Everything here is the same as it is in Cairo—or Cuzco or Kathmandu.” It’s all very much the same.

Pico Iyer couldn't have said it better when he wrote the line "We travel, then, in search of both self and anonymity—and, of course, in finding the one we apprehend the other."  The essay ends with: That is why the best trips, like the best love affairs, never really end.


The all-time favorite opening paragraph goes:
"We travel, initially, to lose ourselves; and we travel, next, to find ourselves. We travel to open our hearts and eyes and learn more about the world than our newspapers will accommodate. We travel to bring what little we can, in our ignorance and knowledge, to those parts of the globe whose riches are differently dispersed. And we travel, in essence, to become young fools again—to slow time down and get taken in, and fall in love once more. The beauty of this whole process was best described, perhaps, before people even took to frequent flying, by George Santayana in his lapidary essay, “The Philosophy of Travel.” We “need sometimes,” the Harvard philosopher wrote, “to escape into open solitudes, into aimlessness, into the moral holiday of running some pure hazard, in order to sharpen the edge of life, to taste hardship, and to be compelled to work desperately for a moment at no matter what.”

for the complete essay, click | click >>>

2 comments:

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