When we get out of the glass bottle of our ego and when we escape like the squirrels in the cage of our personality and get into the forest again, we shall shiver with cold and fright. But things will happen to us so that we don’t know ourselves. Cool, unlying life will rush in.
– D. H. Lawrence
Occasionally things occur which remind me of how much life has changed me; how living in a different country and surrendering my sense of belonging to the ether has altered my vision of the world. The feeling of being altered is generally strongest among my own compatriots and cultural background where I can observe variations with the greatest degree of contrast.
It has lead me to believe (please feel free to argue with me if you disagree) that travel* is one of the most startling catalyst for transformation in the human mind outside of the conscientious pursuit of faith.
*By travel I don’t mean trekking round the world in a gap year or going for a week in an all-inclusive holiday resort in Sharm el-Sheikh. I am referring to going somewhere new with your eyes wide and ego dampened. Of course you may do just that trekking around the world in a gap year or in an all-inclusive holiday resort in Sharm el-Sheikh. But you can also experience it in your own town or the one down the road. Fundamentally becoming well-travelled is far more about cultivating a sense of curiosity without the self-rightness we construct like defences against change to our well laid patterns of thinking.
Travel is a mysterious thing: it can encourage humility and insight or it can reinforce prejudice and nurture pride. There are some much “adventured” people I know who remain un-humbled by what they have seen and done but instead believe that they have seen everything in the world and can make absolutist statements on any topic of conversation.
Proust said: The only real voyage of discovery consists not in seeking new landscapes, but in having new eyes; in seeing the universe through the eyes of another, one hundred others - in seeing the hundred universes that each of them sees.
The world would be a much better place if people allowed themselves to be awake to the differences in the minutiae of other people’s human experience.
Its nearly time that I return to my native soil so for the next few weeks while I "travel" I will be away from posting here and keeping my eyes wide to the wonders of the earth around me.