We Travel to Discover Ourselves

“The great stillness in these landscapes that once made me restless seeps into me day by day, and with it the unreasonable feeling that I have found what I was searching for without ever having discovered what it was.”     Peter Matthiessen

 

 “A good traveler has no fixed plans and is not intent on arriving.”   Lao Tsu

 

“Living abroad, traveling, both experiences simplify our lives. At home, the web of our social life, work life, of our responsibilities, even our amusements and pleasures, all conspire to complicate our experience. However good the life, it distracts us. Traveling we (can) leave much of that distraction behind. In the simpler world of traveling, experiences come to us one at a time. So they register more clearly. And there is more time to mull, to consider the kind of surprising connections that, for me at least, often lead to an essay or a story.  Occasionally even to a poem. I get back to first questions, questions about how meaning is made and sustained.

“Oddly enough, perhaps, something similar happens in writing about travel or the expat life.  Much of the clutter of living disappears; it’s easier for me to arrive at clarity and, I probably shouldn’t say, to approach mystery.

“. . . I travel hoping to get further in, to find in the world and myself a common humanity. I travel to awaken from the trance of our culture, the trance that leads us to assume that our ways are the ways. To travel is to know, to feel, that our ways are our ways and that’s all. I consider it a good trip if I suffer as much “culture shock” coming home as going.

“And I travel for beauty, to be undone by beauty. Just for the oh of it. To be always alert would be to see beauty everywhere, I suppose, but, fallen as we are, the beauty that is always there is just more available traveling. And I want it.”

Kevin Oderman, from an interview in Brevity: A Journal of Concise Literary Nonfiction, Fall 2015

Chart of Panama Canal, Photo by SSH

Chart of Panama Canal, Photo by SSH

2 thoughts on “We Travel to Discover Ourselves

  1. SSH says:

    Thanks for that wonderful quote. And you suggest that we, too, are “wonders of the world” if we are open to that. Only with open hearts can we really connect with the world. Which is good enough reason to go!

  2. Susansuzi says:

    “People travel to wonder at the height of mountains, at the huge waves of the sea, at the long courses of rivers, at the vast compass of ocean, at the circular motions of the stars: and they pass by themselves without wondering.” Saint Augustine

    We are among those who see the wonders of the world wherever we are to look within ourselves with wonder that we live, breathe, and love each day in such wonder-filled beauty.

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