Travel… It’s good for the mind, it's good for the soul, particularly when it is unfeted, and distraction free.
We live in a highly connected world. Modern technology has increased our ability to do more, to see more, to know more. A momentary experience can be snapped in an instant – and just as quickly replayed. A travel itinerary can be created electronically and transacted within minutes. We have developed programs that feed us information about our world – in real time. Experiencing and connecting with our world has never been easier. Information has become a product, and like other consumer products we have grown to anticipate that something new, something different, will arrive to fulfil our day. At times we may find ourselves overwhelmed and retreating from this automated world.
Is modern contemporary life slowly squeezing out our ability to accept and enjoy quietness? As a society are we conditioning ourselves to believe that silence is a symptom of boredom? During the last 6 months of full time travel, we have observed our own reactions to silence; starting banal conversation, playing music, interacting with electronic entertainment or reaching for any resource within arms-length that provides background noise and arrests the dread of silence. On our travels we have also discovered that an increasing number of tourist attractions are alive with all forms of interactive entertainment – housing the latest lights, bells and whistles we have come to expect as part of a futuristic world. It is like the busyness of noise and action gives us a sense of connection and belonging.
But how often do we simply arrive at a place and just take the time to absorb the information surrounding us, admire the sights and sounds, marvel at the colours and study the people and its history. How often do we contemplate the past – smiling or even shuddering, seeing ourselves on location in an imaginary scene in the present day or in decades or centuries earlier. How often do we simply not think at all, empty our minds and allow ourselves to escape and breathe in the candid moments of silence and subtle sounds. How often do we just spend time at a place meditating in its quiet surrounds, appreciating the chorus of singing birds, the rustling of parched leaves pushed along in the wind or watching a day unfold as the sun announces itself over the horizon burning off the morning mist.
We believe that taking time out to reflect on what the world means to us and what we truly want to get out of visiting places is essential for understanding ourselves and our place in the world. It feeds our wellbeing. Treating travel like an exam result or bingo card is exhaustive work. Similarly, setting tight timetables that remove our ability to relax and reflect on our understanding of an experience is energy-sapping and counterproductive.
How often in the journey stage of travel do our minds wander, prefacing past and future events over the present; inserting tiny internal mental notes about plans for the following day, constructing a shopping list, replaying past conversations over in our mind in an attempt to interpret or re-interpret their meaning, critiquing our self-worth against the appearance of passing passengers and constantly reviewing the status of our online health via electronic smart devices. All this mental activity robs us of the joys and simple pleasures in life that mean so much and cost nothing.
Living in the moment and being present and aware of what is happening around you is a wonderful feeling, but unfortunately, like sleep too many of us are placing less importance on its beneficial qualities. Although it may be becoming increasingly difficult it is great natural therapy in a busy world.
Let's not forget that the most rewarding and exciting part of travel is the journey. The journey is the magic that stays with us forever and unlike the destination will never change. It is a detailed story that defines us and is made all the more satisfying when you are able to recount those moments of peace and transcendence.
‘Sometimes you will never know the value of a moment until it becomes a memory.’ Dr Suess.