The Millennial Escape
We’ve been infected by the travel bug. Maybe it’s time to find a cure.
Men seek retreats for themselves, houses in the country, sea-shores, and mountains; and thou too art wont to desire such things very much. But this is altogether a mark of the most common sort of men, for it is in thy power whenever thou shalt choose to retire into thyself.
— Marcus Aurelius in his Meditations
The Great Wall of China. Machu Picchu. The Great Pyramid of Giza. Christ the Redeemer.
Who wouldn’t want to see all these wonders up close?
Yet, traveling takes time and our time is limited.
There are so many other things I want to do besides traveling. I want to have a family, I want to write, I want to have a garden, I want to work.
I want to always be creating things — with my own hands — that fill me with a sense of wonder.
Bitten By The Travel Bug
My generation has been bitten by the travel bug.
I’ve seen people try to make the case that this makes Millennials somehow enlightened — as if we have broken away from the consumerist cycle of owning stuff and are instead looking for satisfying experiences to feed our souls.
This is bullshit.
This unquenchable need to be everywhere and see everything is another symptom of our social media obsessed, always on, go-go-go generation.
We can’t miss anything. There’s nothing worse than FOMO. So we have to be everywhere, do it all, miss nothing.
It’s our version of Keeping Up With The Joneses.
Rather than (or maybe in addition to) buying a bigger house or a fancier car than our friends, we must travel to more exotic locations. We must see more of the world — become more “cultured”.
The Never-Ending Bucket List
In the bucket list I keep in my head, I’ve always had a never-ending list of places I wanted to travel to.
I wanted to see the Ancient Wonders of The World, the Modern Wonders of the World, the Man Made Wonders of the World…
In order to see all these places, I’d have to dedicate my life to traveling. It’s exhausting just thinking about it.
I added all these places because I felt like I had to.
I bought into the myth of needing to travel to “find myself”.
I’d heard of friends going to these far-off places, so I had to, too. In my own bucket list, I was competing with other people.
What’s the point of winning a competition only to later realize you had no interest in participating?
Finding Meaning, Here
You have power over your mind — not outside events. Realize this, and you will find strength. — Marcus Aurelius in his Meditations
I’m not against traveling.
I’m against fleeing from yourself and your life while pretending this is the meaning of life or that it’s somehow “enlightened”.
I’m against the idea of needing to fly thousands of miles away when there’s so much to see in our own backyards. (I’m being a bit liberal with the use of backyards. If you live in the United States, though, you can find enough national parks and sights to fill a lifetime — many likely within a few hours drive.)
We dream of these places because they’re far off. The farther they are and the less we know about them, the better. They have less of a chance of intruding on reality. But they’re an escape. The grass is somehow always greener.
If I’m lucky, I’ll get to see plenty of the wonders of the world throughout my life. If I’m luckier, I won’t need to travel too far to see them.
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