“Travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry, and narrow-mindedness, and many of our people need it sorely on these accounts. Broad, wholesome, charitable views of men and things cannot be acquired by vegetating in one little corner of the earth all one’s lifetime.”
As we grow older and go through experiences, our mind evolves and expands to adapt to the new information. Travelling provides the same benefits but at a much faster rate. Travel broadens the mind and makes it think in different, perhaps uncomfortable ways.
It can get uncomfortable at first. I remember my first trip, I was quite stressed about my packing list, getting everything just right, and making sure I had the pictures and notes relevant to each place, so I could put them in a scrapbook.
Who was that scrapbook for? My friends and basically anyone who cared to ask “Hey, what’s up?”
Truth is, it takes time to just let go. It’s a gradual process of learning and unlearning.
People who are well-traveled are known to be better at detaching from things that can no longer remain in their life. They are not afraid of change and don’t keep chasing a state of being constant.
The first few trips, you might even try to plan the ‘travel-without-itinerary’ parts of the journey. Until slowly, it becomes a natural instinct. You go to a place with a rough idea about what you want to do, and then abandon it all when you realize there could be other things of interest.
When you travel to a new place, you are forced to step out of your bubble. The place you are traveling to might have systems quite different from yours, perhaps one that you even vehemently oppose. But once you’re there and somebody offers you an explanation of why those systems work for them, it suddenly all makes sense!
You dwelling on the ‘how’ in a cynical tone, and start asking ‘why’!
Culture is one of the most wonderful things about our species. I don’t subscribe to the superstitious aspects of it. (Neither do I judge people who do.) It’s the simple little things that keep families and communities, going- the faith that gives them the positivity to keep walking on the path they believe is right.
But culture can only be truly appreciated when other cultures are experienced and the differences embraced. This again is not as easy as ‘Discovery’ makes it look. One must be willing to speak their language. Walk through noisy bazaars and ditch the supermarkets (Or maybe the opposite if you come from a location where people mainly shop local!).
When you step into their shoes and feel how they feel while they carry out their rituals or eating their food, they stop looking ‘crazy’.
Side note- Off late, I’ve been trying to focus less on mainstream cultures, which are all wonderful, and shift some focus to sub-cultures that are not so well known. This probably stems from my love for all things underground, but you should look them up too.
“We cannot solve our problems with the same level of thinking that created them”
Every person comes with their own set of problems and baggage- be it emotional or otherwise. And the only way to solving them is to first understand ourselves from a different perspective. A viewpoint that we haven’t earlier examined. The permutations and combinations are endless.
Travelling is a great way to discover parts of yourself you never thought existed. And this can be very helpful in solving multiple problems in our life. While travelling, you have no choice but to deal with unexpected situations calmly, rationally. A similar situation back home might get you distressed and send you into a whiny fit. But with no one to complain to in a foreign land, you learn or discover skill sets that until now, evaded you. It is a satisfying feeling.
And let’s not forget how calming it can be to spend time out in the open, with nature. It gives you some alone time. Nature is a really great teacher. She is patient and resilient and has a never-ending textbook of life-lessons. This is also why so many corporates are shifting their training and development programs outdoors.
An adventurous outing every once in a while keeps you mentally and physically fit. It gives you balance, and equanimity. Solving problems becomes easier because you can now think of multiple solutions and estimate their results.
You learn to become more liquid. To just melt and pour yourself into the cup of the situation, with no fears or hesitation. And then watch as the magic happens- As travel broadens the mind- your beautiful adaptive mind.
Most of all, you gain acceptance. Not one where you simply turn a blind eye to problematic situations. But the kind of acceptance that allows you to say to yourself-
“Okay. This is how the situation is. What is the best way forward?”