A Word or Two on Travelling

Do you know the feeling, when a word is lurking right on the tip of your tongue, but however hard you try to remember it, it just won’t come to you? It might be a word, a phrase, a name or a song. In fact, the harder you try to cajole it, the further it seems to move away into the dark. And the, hours, or maybe days later, it leaps into your head.

If so, you’re not alone with such experience. The “tip of the tongue” phenomenon is very common, very real and a subject of interest to science too. Researchers confirm that there is a pattern of remembering when you stop trying, but they also suggest a paradox tactically: if you can’t find a word, quit looking for it – it’ll come to you in time.

The Voyage of Self-Discovery

People often travel in search of something; neither a word nor a phrase, but to find themselves. The “voyage of self-discovery” is a time-tested travel literature trope that still moves books off shelves. Whether you’re walking, surfing, eating, praying, or loving your way around the world, giving yourself up to the wild, or discovering a new life under the faraway sun, “go seek yourself out there” seems to be the take-home message from many popular travel memoirs.

We’ve been hearing such messages and suggestions from various sources. They do sound compelling. But, if you ask a room full of experienced travellers, a clearer picture appears: all will be able to point to at least one transformative experience while travelling, but in almost every case it comes out to be that they have the transformative experience when they were least expecting it.

The books on travel comprehend countless such stories, and not just in regards to self-discovery: expeditions that succeed just as they’re abandoned; love that blossoms when the protagonist decides to stop seeking it.

Did you find yourself?

While all of these quests including the search for a tip-of-the-tongue word, the pursuit of happiness, and a voyage of self-discovery are fundamentally different, there’s a pattern that seems to speak to the fluke in our wiring: when we search too keenly for something, we’re bound to get stuck. We subconsciously block ourselves and our minds to the light.

‘The best way to find yourself is to lose yourself in the service of others,’ goes the quote commonly, and probably mistakenly, attributed to Gandhi. Service is a wonderful way to lose yourself, but it’s just one of the many ways. Losing oneself into the wonders of nature is one of them. Many lost themselves in art, in a near-death experience, in religion, or even in pursuit of a perfect meal. I would like to say that the best way to find yourself is to stop trying and to simply lose yourself in the world.

A Mind’s Horizon dissolves into the Lost World

Though, the career of a “travel blogger” sovereignties high in the court of cool; there’s some in-built irony in the fact that the best-selling travel book of all time is nearly 150 years old.

Mark Twain’s Innocents Abroad, which humorously archives Twain’s experience traveling with a group of American tourists, was first published in 1869. It was the best-selling of Twain’s works during his lifetime, and it remains the inspiration for wanderlust till date.

Further than inspiring generations of readers with his signature humor, the book suggests that one should consider traveling to expand their own horizons. Losing yourself into the wild and while breaking boundaries on the world map, you won’t even realize when the horizons of your mind got dissolved and diffused.

Enlightening Yourself through Expedition

One of the most famous quotes from the Mark Twain’s book goes:

“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 of one’s life.”

It’s ravishing to see travelers fall head over heels in love with new places. And, while they spend time tucked faraway, in magical little communities, they are concurrently expanding their hearts and minds to acknowledge the different ways that people on our planet live. It’s a humbling part of travelling off-the-beaten-path, the facet of sharing experiences with people that lead such immensely different lives from us.

The impact of travelling is amplified when you’re able to spend time in places that we may never have known about, understood, or valued. If you are an ardent traveler, you optimistically soak up new and interesting information everywhere you go. But as an average adult, there are seemingly few probabilities to push yourself out of your comfort zone and try a hand at something totally foreign and exceptional.

People, Friendships and Learning

When a bunch of travelers from around the world collaborate with a community they’re visiting as guests, the number of experiences they share with locals increases massively. Real bonds of friendship are ought to be formed since everyone is sight-seeing, working, eating, and hanging out together. This is rare to experience back at home even if your best buddy from college lives a few blocks away. These beautiful new friendships are based on mutual respect and understanding of one another’s similarities and differences. It’s evident from our experiences that a person’s views could be altered vividly by a shared experience with someone different from themselves.

You might come across people who have had pivotal life experiences that differ from your own. This recognition is so splendid and powerful when you’re a traveler at a new land. Mostly because people often incorrectly assume that the other beings we meet while traveling are more different than similar to us.

Share, Care and Break the Boundaries

By sharing your proficiencies, engaging in real and honest conversations, and working together towards a common goal with people around you, travelers are able to move far beyond making assumptions about their new surroundings and those they share them with.

Alternatively, they’re able to shed their prejudices and identify the connection that a human shares with each being on earth, if they simply allow themselves to. And that is a very beautiful thing!