Travel to Unravel - Take the Year Off
If there is one thing which simultaneously leaves us speechless while making us into a storyteller, it is travel. The art of travel is something which is intrinsic to human existence. We travel not to escape life, but for life to not escape us.
The need for travel has catalysed the very steps of human progress. Civilisations flourished, and new lands were discovered. Cultures were exchanged, and opportunities grew. All this because the human race decided, quite subconsciously, that they were not destined to stay in the same place that their ancestors did.
In contemporary times, travel has evolved into something else. The ease of access and the acceptance of cultures have made travel fairly easy. Gone are the days when traversing across countries was an affair of months rather than hours. One can reach anywhere they want, within the day, provided they have the cash, and the gumption. Even discounting the financial aspect, travelling is not as expensive a hobby as people make it out to be. It is with this underlying premise that I advocate for the travel year, a year of introspection, assimilation, and discovery.
The world has always experienced bouts of intolerance and xenophobia, but it seems that we are afflicted with this now more than ever. Most people of one culture are wary of the other. It is but natural to fear that which we not know, that which is alien to us. As the common adage goes, the world is a book, and those who do not travel read only a page.
It would be a gross travesty to tread through your life, knowing that you have only seen so much.
It is akin to reading about Shakespeare, while only knowing the meaning of words starting with a P. It will not make any sense, and you will declare that the book is an utter pile of rubbish. Such is the situation of those who do not travel. They will never truly experience the beauty that pervades every inch of our good earth.
Travel teaches modesty and humility, traits which are scarce in contemporary times. Most of the world’s disputes arise because of an epidemic of self-importance, the belief that you are somehow more important than the other person. This belief is a sickness that arises out of ignorance and out of the lack of knowledge on how inconsequential we truly are in the grand scheme of things. Travel causes one to feel small, and feel big, all at the same time.
As Mark Twain put it, broad, wholesome, charitable views of men and things cannot be acquired by vegetating in one little corner of the earth all of one’s lifetime.
A person in their 20s is usually overwhelmed by college, jobs, unrequited love, et al. They are trying to find their place in the world, trying to make sense of this ennui that pervades every societal framework.
I am not claiming that travel has all the answers, but I am confident in saying that travel will make you question.
What the world needs, as of this pivotal moment, are dreamers.
Gone are the glory days of explorers and discoverers. The earth has nothing left to hide.
However, while you might not find new lands and nations, your quest of travel might just yield something far more worthwhile.
One day, while traversing through the streets of Nepal, or climbing up the slopes of the Kilimanjaro, you just might discover yourself.
If that is not worth an year of our lives, then nothing is.