I’m a passionate reader. For most of my life, I used to think that reading about something and experiencing it was the same thing. And, in a way, I was right. At the end of the day, both of them form the same kind of memories. I remember my walk on a beach just as well as I remember strolling through the corridors of Hogwarts. But I was also gravely mistaken. And I learnt that, as we learn most other things in life, through experience.
I was on a family vacation recently, a different country, a whole new world. The last time I was on an international trip, I was three. Not the best age for life-changing revelations. So, I had a lot of anticipation built up for this week of travel. It didn’t disappoint.
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The magic of travel
Borders between lands
First, it shattered the fantasy I’d built around the whole ‘international’ thing. The lines on the map have a greater effect on us than our rational minds can explain. I expected there to be a fundamental difference between what walking on streets felt like in my home country or any other. I really ought to have known better. The streets felt the same. The sky, the vehicles, the buildings, it all felt the same. So much so that dividing the lands in different countries sounded like a stupid thing to do. What was making one country any different from the other, anyway?
Nothing permanent. Nothing that really matters.
So, why should you travel? Because the world you’re in is vast and varied and gorgeous. There are so many memories you have the chance of making—memories you’d treasure for the rest of your life. So, why not enjoy the gifts you’ve been given? This was the first time I walked through a desert. There was a cold wind making my hair go wild, making the hair on my arms stand up in exhilaration. I found out how much fun those dunes are to climb, even though it got my shoes practically swimming in sand. I actually saw skyscrapers for the first time. And I made a lot of new friends. There were so many cats wandering the streets and I love cats, so that was amazing.
“I’m in love with cities I’ve never been to and people I’ve never met.”John Green
Let’s face it, you’re going to be dead in a few decades, anyway. And that’s if you’re lucky. The question isn’t “Why travel?” It’s “Why the hell not?”
It’s a beautiful planet we’ve got the privilege of living on. In its oceans and forest and skies, and even in its cities, there’s unparalleled beauty and enigma. It’s funny, how blind most people are to the sparks of magic right in front of them. So many things we take for granted. We miss so many chances of witnessing a miracle. Sometimes, I think we forget that every second of our life is one. Take the time. For just a little while. Open your eyes and see what you’ve been missing. Pause the hectic schedule for one minute and just watch what’s around you.
Making Every Moment Count
Beautiful things, sunsets. They last for less than five minutes. In those five minutes, the sky goes through such gorgeous progressive transformations, its impossible to take your eyes off. I’ve never seen a sunset that I didn’t want to capture. Life is full of moments like that. Bits of time that remind you of everything that was and everything that could be. That make you think. Because look at it. That’s the same sun that existed when this planet didn’t. It’s the same sun you’re going to see, no matter what part of the planet you look from. That’s the sun dinosaurs looked at. It was there when we came into existence and it’ll be there when we meet our end. I’ve thought about the eternal nature of the cosmos a lot. If I could, I’d travel to some planet far, far way… just to see what its sky looks like. But you can’t go to other planets just yet. At least explore your own. There’s a lot to be seen on this lone rock racing through space.
If you’re like the majority of the population, you’ve been holed up in one place for most of your life. Everything you do is just routine. Repetitive. I have nothing against routines. I love a schedule. But it does tend to make things a little dull after a while. It makes you blind. You start taking things for granted. And that… that I have a problem with. Routine is simple. After a certain point, it doesn’t even require effort on your part.
There’s one thing very wrong with that picture. You never find out what you’re capable of. You never challenge yourself. You brain is stuck in a mode of thinking, and that’s fine, because it works. It has worked so far. Traveling is like the brief stretch of novelty and adventure in an otherwise mundane life.
One of the best ways you can find out what you’re capable of is to put yourself in new situations. I didn’t know I loved traveling until I got a taste of what it actually meant. I love reading about adventure and magic, but it doesn’t have the same effect. Not by a long stretch. My favorite memories are times when I was out of my comfort zone, in a place I’d never been before. That’s what shows you who you are. I love nature and I love taking risks. I’ve been on the world’s fastest rollercoaster and my only complaint was that it ended too soon. I’ve climbed mountains and trekked deserts. I’ve rolled around in snow and I’ve stood by the ocean in awe.
It gets me thinking every single time. Every time I’m on an adventure, every time I’m searching for new memories to make, I learn a little more about myself. It isn’t always good, but it’s always helpful. I love it. I’m better off for it.
I love knowing more about the world I live in.
It’s worth knowing.