People Travel

People travel to wonder at the height of mountains,         

At the huge waves of the sea,

At the long courses of rivers,

At the circular motion of the stars,

And they pass themselves by without wondering.

St Augustine

I had a student desk in my childhood bedroom with a huge map of the world on its surface. I would spend hours looking at the many exotic and mysterious names of countries near and far wondering what life is like for people who live in such amazing places.

I imagined life would be so different for other people and enjoyed picturing myself visiting tropical islands in the Pacific or treking through deep jungles and sandy deserts in Africa.

The travel bug hits so many of us early in life and while I’ve enjoyed some adventures and explorations in other countries it was while actually living in another country that I came to see how much we all have in common as human beings. I spent time being a mum with other mothers, being a friend, being a co-worker with people from all over the world. I learnt so much about myself along the way as I observed, listened and absorbed the stories of others.

I wonder if the way we westerners tend to ‘do travel’ actually changes us, or do we merely stay in our protective bubble passing through other cultures and places relatively untouched. We rarely stay long enough to form connections, create meaning and be genuinely impacted by the beauty of listening to and learning from other people. Our style of travel is a whirlwind, whistlestop, leap out for the quick photo op and hastily jump back on board for the next highlight.

In effect I believe how we travel is, for the most part, is also how we tend to do life. And that’s what the quote is all about.

It takes an intentional pause, a mindful noticing, an honest and open questioning, a moment of vulnerability to form meaningful connection with others. Only then, do we discover something about ourselves, something of our shared multi-faceted humanity.

Enjoy your travels, local and overseas when the time allows. Take time in the busy jam packed itinerary to occasionally pause and listen for the questions that will come to expand your awareness of yourself and others.

We are all in this together.


    Staycation – Seeing home for the first time!

    Alain de Botton, a British-Swiss philosopher, makes an interesting observation that has particular relevance in our current COVID circumstances.

    He reflects on the following scene:

    Two people are seated on a plane travelling to the same destination. One is excited and full of anticipation while the other is more subdued, resigned to the inevitable. One is about to visit a holiday destination for the first time, while the other passenger is returning home to work and the normal routines of life.

    Two people, same destination and Alain’s observation is that our attitude creates a different response to the same environment.

    He reflects that it is all about how we view what we see or experience. Happiness, he says, is always a psychological issue.

    We seek and expect to discover beauty in other exotic places – we take photos to hold the moment, the feeling, the experience. We splash our delight all over social media, beaming faces, drinks in hand, colour all around us.

    He notes that there is a ‘sad blindness and haste in modern travel.’ We do rush across the surface as a way of life.

    He suggests that perhaps we could put away the camera and draw. Really begin to notice and see and enjoy beauty. Training ourselves to notice, not look, but really see.

    He then takes the notion further and challenges us to look at our ‘home town,’ our everyday locale as a traveller might.

    We could, with a shift of attitude, begin to see where we are through the curious and expectant eyes of a tourist.

    His conclusion is that pleasure depends on outlook, not place. I concur with these sage observations and have enjoyed hearing friends’ stories of local discoveries as they engage in a ‘staycation’. I’ve seen photos of local waterfalls, hiking trails to caves and natural wonders, magnificent sunset scenes photographed from local beaches. Yes it is possible to discover beauty right where we are.

    And so another lesson arises from this COVID season; home and our surrounds are worthy of attention, there is beauty where we are, our ordinary everyday surroundings can capture our imagination and become interesting and inspiring.

    I think T.S.Elliot captured this concept very poignantly in the following excerpt from his work, ‘Four Quartets’

    We shall not cease from exploration
    And the end of all our exploring
    Will be to arrive where we started
    And know the place for the first time.