Friday, February 23, 2024

The Metamorphic Power of Travel

Speaking (or rather, writing, as I was in my previous post) on the subject of cruising, whilst I was aboard the Artemis I was treated to a new literary quotation every night - each one on a little card placed on my pillow along with a square of chocolate by my cabin steward. Well-knowing that I delight in collecting quotations and am not particularly bothered about chocolate, my astute wife quickly realised she could trade her evening's quotation for my square of chocolate.

Many of these travel quotations were new to me. So, instead of devouring additional calories, I amassed a pocketful of erudition. The following three quotations are some of my favourites from this particular harvest:

"Travel and change of place impart new vigor to the mind."
Seneca (4BC - 65AD)

"Don't tell me how educated you are; tell me how much you travelled."
Muhammed (7th century)

"The world is but a canvas to the imagination."
Henry David Thoreau (1817 - 1862), Author

Added to Robert Louis Stevenson's sentiment regarding travel, as remarked upon in yesterday's post ('On the Subject of Cruising'), one aspect that fascinates me is that, taken collectively, they span some two thousand years, and yet the sentiment remains identifiable and understandable, even within the modern world. Travel does indeed expose us to new destinations, new cultures, new ideas. It allows us to understand the similarities, as well as the differences, between people of different races, and to develop a genuine and lasting appreciation of the same. 

However, for all that, perhaps there is an even deeper consideration to be had. Above all, there is the undeniable fact that travel has the power to change us - that is, if we are openly receptive and allow it to work its magic. As a result of perceptive and receptive travel, each one of us becomes a new person, with new knowledge, a better informed mindset, and a wider outlook on life in general. As the British essayist and novelist, Pico Iyer, wrote:

'A person susceptible to "wanderlust" is not so much addicted to movement as committed to transformation'.

If allowed to take its full effect, that transformation works on a personal level, but also has the power to spill over into our personal groups and communities, to our families and our friends, and ultimately, to our social and work environments.

In effect, travel produces ripples of change, and left to work unhindered, those ripples have power to transform the world - for the better, if we allow it to be so. 

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