For the past ten years I've literally moved around at any given opportunity, in total settling in more than 7 different locations. As much as I love to discover this earth, I have to confess that I may have misjudged the importance of having solid roots. At this moment, I try to stick to a place for longer but in doing so I’m drawn to the question why I went abroad in the first place.
The Good. It seems obvious, you go out into the world to explore unknown cultures which then point towards your own cultural conditioning. Whenever I experienced something unusual, I felt like discovering what this world is all about, what I am personally all about. I love the feeling of freedom which travel brings and the seemingly unlimitedness. You can always chase after the horizon.
The Not-So-Good. Eventually I realised that there are infinite experiences you can chase after. Isn’t this a bit like a mouse running around in a treadmill? It was at a philosophical travel meet-up the other week that I became a little bit more cautious of my passion for travel. A lady spoke about a world where we are living the ultimate capitalistic travel dream: The more we travel, the happier we should be. Now is the time to give up one’s stamp collection and replace it by a cardboard map of stating which countries we’ve been to, always craving for more.
Isn’t it a bit selfish to travel? I remember how a driver in Guatemala told me that more and more tourists come over the years, implying how his local culture is increasingly exposed to the Western standard. If locals see tourist with western cloths or whatever material things, they might feel inferior. Is it truly OK to invade foreign places? Is it really OK for this planet if we take airplanes to get from A to B?
Travelling with the mind
At the philosophical travel meet-up the same lady I spoke about earlier caused quite a debate among the hard-core physical travel fellows. She shared her personal travel story over the years, starting with physical travel which was transforming into mental travel over the years, travelling with the mind as she described it. Basically she identified the mind as the point zero of physical travel experiences, if I have the idea to go and explore a place, the physical world can be used as the literal playing field. Yet time is limited and as I said earlier, physical travel can feel like a mouse in a treadmill. When traveling with the mind, the lady is following a certain thought or feeling and exploring all its depth in the current moment. This means that even a walk to the supermarket can have the same flavour of exploring the Mount Everest, if only we can notice and explore with broader capacity of the mind.
Do you know the feeling of moving to a new apartment and you are just so busy settling in, unboxing and decorating, maybe having a bottle of wine open and the music on? The least thing which you want to do is probably checking your Instagram account, or? And then a couple of days later, the excitement seems to be gone and you fall back into the digital streams. But you have been far away in the meantime, you have been “miles” away without even travelling to distant places. I want to focus on these kind of travels more.
I think I know what the lady was speaking about. I found that it may be all about focus, something I am honestly struggling with in a time where the Internet is often just an arm length away. It seems that having the option of escaping from certain situation by looking at the phone means that I am not able to explore certain situations in full depth. Some situation last longer than a few hours and it feels that I am often falling into the same place where I started from. Physical or mental travel, both work in the same way.
I want to go that extra “mile” to return to my heart, to feel a distance more often. Both travel versions seem to carry the unknown territory in common, the realm you need to cross through to reach a point in the distance. When you travel physically there is no avoiding, when you sit in the airplane or on a train you cannot just turn around. When travelling mentally, it is quite easily to turn around but I will practice to make it a habit to go and explore things fully.
Lean back, reflect & breath in the following song...