09 Jun How to discover your true self through travel
One of the best things from the outer journey is that an inner journey too takes place that is at least as profound and as momentous.
To pick an example at random, courage in situations is not an ongoing thing nor even a character trait, surprisingly. It is a decision taken in that situation at the time often on the spur of the moment. Unexpected things happen. All the more when one is in a strange place where many things are unfamiliar. The same person can act with courage in one instance and not feel upto it at another time. She doesn’t have to judge herself harshly in the latter instance. It certainly is not a permanent reflection.
Coming across a band of hooligans is unpleasant at any time. In a strange or culturally unfamiliar situation it can be even tougher. Travel teaches you how to quickly deal with the unexpected. Often there isn’t a lot of time to react. There isn’t enough time to absorb the incident or the situation, let alone to understand it or to put it in a familiar perspective.
One learns also not to judge but to realise that this is how it is. Part of maturity, sophistication, evolution is not to evaluate nor to think in simple terms. Comparisons are not only odious but unnecessary. Travel more than anything else teaches you that. Normative is not the norm, the obverse is. There is no good or bad in this context. There is no right way. For example, there is a certain sensuousness to eating Indian vegetarian food with the fingers but tearing up chunks of meat in a colder climate would seem barbarous. Another example is how dogs are much loved as pets and as man’s best friend in many parts of the world but are eaten in China and Korea. Does it imbue the latter with savagery or cruelty? No more or less than the brutal slaughter and consumption of other animals like cute rabbits, sweet lambs or baby calves elsewhere.
Cultural differences can also be found in clothing. In India the gracious sari leaves women’s mid riffs uncovered. It can be most attractive without in any way being indecent. In Western society the same applies to legs being uncovered below the skirt, where the hemline can be short.
These commonalities and differences both make the same point. The stars, the blue sky, the sunsets and dawn are common human heritage. The light can be different at different angles and latitudes,the duration of sunsets much longer. That is the richness of the experience that travel exposes one to.
Education from travel is ongoing and fun at the same time. It consists not only of indelible impressions gathered but how one reacts and feels along with one‘s own sense of values and priorities that continue to change. The simultaneous journey within is of how one responds to situations and how reference points keep changing. Who you are and what matters to you is a constant process of discovery.
It is an invaluable, if sometimes not fully recognised, outcome of the process.