Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Travel is not ALL that...

The late twenties are complicated for us. What we were told, what we expected, and what we got all turned out to be completely different. And a lot of us aren't sure where to find meaning anymore.

We wanted to find meaning in our careers, but after a string of free internships the majority of us are just making due with whatever will pay the bills. We want to find meaning in deep, powerful relationships, but 21st century technology has made it too easy to keep every type of relationship at a pretty superficial level. We read about those who have given up the nine-to-five to start traveling the world and we can’t help but go, “That’s it. This is how I will get meaning in my life. I will travel the world.”

It breaks my heart when I see someone I care for jet off to England, or Brazil or Dubai or some other random place — purely because they are unhappy with their lives and want to find meaning — only to meander around in their new country and return home essentially the same person, albeit with a few souvenirs. They travel to new places, but are still the same people. They’ll return to their old jobs or new jobs that are similar and count the days until they can “find meaning” again.

We cannot go to any new place expecting it to give us meaning. The same way we cannot go into a church and expect to feel a spiritual awakening from entering alone. The same way we cannot go into the dating world and assume that simply “finding a man/woman” will give us clarity and purpose. It would be nice if everything had this intrinsic quality, but it doesn't.

In all places, there are roads, buildings, and a plethora of jobs that need to be done in order to keep the community going. These places will vary greatly in shape, size, and texture, but at the end of the day, it is still just ground beneath your feet. The cars might be on the opposite side of the road, but that doesn't mean the asphalt will provide you anything on its own accord.

So what does travelling give you, if not meaning? Perspective, it broadens your eye view.
Go onto those roads and into those buildings. Experience the shapes, sizes, and textures. Walk down Times Square — not because there is something inherently special about Times Square, but because it differs so greatly from where you are and take it all in. Don’t gobble up these moments like a manic collector, fervently praying to complete a set or finish a series or have a profile full of pictures! Take in these experiences gently, let them swirl around organically; see what resonates and what passes you by. Take it all in and recognize that perspective is not meaning, but it can help you shape it.

Meaning in our lives will not come from outside sources, even if those sources are from far outside our house. Travel can open your eyes, but it doesn’t make you see better. The same way a career for career’s sake, a romance for romance’s sake, a religion for religion’s sake, will not give you meaning. Meaning cannot be given, shared, sold, or traded. It is created from within. It is created from deep intro- and retrospection, understanding what makes you tick and what shuts you off, and learning all the little aspects that make you “you”. It is created when we see how we interact with the world and take a moment to contemplate why.

You don’t need to backpack through Europe, or do a string of work-abroad jobs, or volunteer for an NGO. You just need to step out into life with an open mind and a fearlessness to accept whatever emotions and experiences come your way. Whether that step is off of an air plane or onto a garden around your house you know by heart is irrelevant.
In short: you will not gain meaning by travelling the world. But you will gain meaning by travelling your mind.

Think about it...

Disclaimer: This is my opinion. Yes I am a person who likes to be at home with my parents and loved ones. But I am no stranger to wanderlust.
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1 comment:

  1. Agree strongly. Its not love, work or play if it lacks passion.

    Reminds me of a quote - calculations built the titanic, passion built the ark


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