Do you remember your first travel?
For kids growing up in the 80’s 90’s India, it would be a resounding Yes. Elaborate packed tiffins with all kinds of food that would last for a couple of days, elaborate bedding that included bed sheets, pillows that would have to be puffed up and as much luggage as you could board because you were literally packing half of what you owned for a trip.
Days would go into planning a travel, however small or big. The excitement, the rush, anticipation, new smells, new place, what would come up next?
And as you watched, the familiar landscape slowly changed to a not so familiar one. You watched the hills, mountains, green fields ever changing and you looked on with curiosity as dusk turned to night to dawn..
All those memories came flashing back these past few days. Those were my early days of travel and that was the case for most of the kids growing up at the cusp of a fast paced India.
This one question kept popping up in my head and it becomes especially relevant in today’s times. What it means to be a traveller today? With the advent of technology that shoves itself at us right from the time we wake up till the time we sleep, what does it mean?
With no place in the world spared anymore, with more people searching for something ‘unique’ something ‘different’ when they travel, is there room for mystery at all?
Look around you, whether one is taking a road trip or backpacking or trekking or flying to an exotic place or a simple impromptu tour ,nothing is a mystery anymore.
You get at least 10,000 hits on internet search giving you info about that so called ‘remote’ region because somebody has already been there.
But hey let me clarify something, I am not trying to dampen the travel bug inside you, I am just telling you to pause and think. The more you seek what you think is ‘unexplored’ territory, you realize everything has been explored.
Which comes back to that same question again? What does it REALLY mean to be a traveller? And like it usually does for me, it struck me somewhere between consciousness and a light slumber early morning.
I reminisced about a book by Pico Iyer I read sometime ago, where he talks about his adventures in going nowhere. Where just a routine standard drive to visit his mother entices the same sense of adventure that he felt exploring different countries and cultures like a nomad with his wife.
Pico Iyer in one of his sojourn meets Leonard Cohen, a singer/songwriter in a monastery outside Los Angeles. He initially wondered why someone who has gone through all the pleasures of life chose to live like this, in isolation in a monastery.
For as we all understand, Monks are meant to reject everything worldly, renounce pleasures but after spending time with him, he realizes how wrong his perceptions were..What it gave me was an insight and sort of epiphany at that dark hour.
Why do we travel? To escape the realities we face in our daily lives. To escape the humdrum and monotony we have created with our own hands. We seek externally even through travel.
Yes, we seek peace, solitude, silence (well some of us) in those travels because we don’t make an effort to seek that in our daily lives. We blame it on society, family, relationships, the fast paced world that it has become, yet we don’t.. Why?
And that’s when it hit me. When the mind is still, when the heart is still, the journey, the travel doesn’t matter anymore, there is no escape, there is no need to escape..
There is no constant movement anymore as there is no restlessness anymore.. One becomes a true traveller when one finds that richness in stillness.
For sitting in a room in quietness, in stillness might be the ultimate travel & adventure we have not dared to explore. So, Isn’t it time we do that?