The unimportance of travel

by Steve Brock on February 1, 2012

Several weeks ago, I used the example of The Civil Wars concert to illustrate my first entry of the series, You Had to Be There. I received many comments (mostly by email or ways other than comments on this site which, you realize of course, you can use…). Most of those comments related to the video and the group.

Fine. 

I’m glad to introduce music to people since it plays such an important role in my life and that of many others.

Then, in Part 4 of that series, I used a photo of my dog Ginger to illustrate the point of how our senses on a trip are more attuned and alive, like those of a dog. And what did I hear back on that profound topic? “Oh, what a cute dog!”

To be fair, many of you commented on the travel aspects, but those were the minority comments. Which leads me to this chilling conclusion:

Who are you calling cute?

Most of you don’t really care that much about travel all the time.

And to that I say:

“Good.”

Neither do I.

Gasp! How can that be? The Meaningful Traveler himself doesn’t care about travel?

Not all the time, no. Here’s why.

Travel is extraordinary. We don’t do it very often though we may dream of it much of the time. So it is right that travel for most of us is a secondary thought. Music or dogs or other interests occupy our time more because they exist in the places where we live. They are part of our everydayness.

Travel, at least for most of us, isn’t. Travel is special or it should be. As I’ve found out with business travel, you do it too much and it becomes just another routine.

Remember: Every day is not your birthday.

And that’s a good thing.

So it is only right that travel retains its special place in our lives, something that we look forward to for adventure and escape and even meaning. For when it becomes part of our bread-and-butter existence, the glow fades.

Having said that, I also think that we can learn from travel and try to apply some of that glow, that special-ness to our daily lives so that our daily routines become something more.

I'll never be able to smell what Ginger does, but I can enjoy watching her "scent the wind"

When we do, I can listen to a song by say, The Civil Wars, and smile just a bit more. Or I can look at that big snout of my favorite pooch, Ginger, and remember that I will never sense the smells she does, but I can enjoy watching her do so. I can be thankful for her and for so many things I might not notice had I not traveled.

So even though travel isn’t important ALL the time in your life, there’s value in travel and thinking about travel even when we’re not thinking about travel, if you know what I mean.

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  • Steve: As I will prove anon, my dog is cuter than your dog.

    And totally agree regarding that “specialness”. What if we left room for something unexpected every day? Two ideas here:

    1. Make sure you have one spontaneous activity each week. Suddenly decide to go walking where you would have driven. Etc.

    2. Plan something “new” each week. Some thinking specialists, Daniel Kahneman may be the one I heard it from, argue that the reason why life moves faster when you’re older is because we’re in routines. Our memory pays less attention to the weeks when they blur together. When you’re a child, everything is new.

    That’s part of why travel stands out in our minds, with all of it’s new, exciting experiences. So when you tackle your own life that way, when you sprinkle your life with experiences you’ve never done before, you interrupt things. Your memory starts paying attention to your life again. And so do you.

    • With the exception of the cuteness comparison between dogs (and when you factor in how Ginger gets an attitude at times, I’m willing to concede on the cuteness factor but I will want photo proof), these are awesome points, Shari. I totally agree with your thoughts and I particularly love your phrase on how travel “interupts things.” That’s exactly it. But if everyday was an interruption, we’d get pretty hacked or worn out. Hence the specialness of travel…and those interuptions as you suggest that we should include in daily life. Great insights.

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