We spend a lot of time wishing we could be doing something else, be somewhere else and in the company someone else. But as time goes by, things don’t change that much. Our daily routine is pretty much the same on a Monday to Friday basis. Perhaps, during the 28 days off we get per year, if lucky, we travel. I belong to a generation obsessed with travelling, with discovering what’s out there, with thinking to find out who we are we need to go to the other side of the world. However, if you haven’t found yourself in your own time and space, you may never find out who you really are even if travelling around the world three times. I’ve met so many people forever trying to find who they are, forever travelling, always certain the grass is greener on the other side. Usually they are deeply unhappy people despite the successful facade.
Human beings across the world make more than a billion foreign trips a year, twice as many as 20 years ago, surely this passion for travelling must have something to do with finding out not only about other cultures but about ourselves too. Maybe we think we will find something we are lacking while discovering the unknown . The great Argentinian writer Jorge Luis Borges used to say that the moment we find out who we are is a key moment in our life. Perhaps the travelled obsessed have the quote written all over their walls?
“Any life is made up of a single moment, the moment in which a man finds out, once and for all, who he is”
Travelling doesn’t open your mind, you can be an open minded person stuck in a small city with hardly any money to make it to the nearest city, let alone around the world.But if you read and cultivate your mind, then, that’s worth a thousand trips even if you have never left your village because of you socio-economic circumstances.
When travelling around Lake Titikaka in Bolivia, I’ve came across large groups of “backpackers” acting like well travelled fully ignorant snobs. They were always in their own groups, spoke only English, contributed little to the local economy- according to locals- and nothing to the tourism industry as they were staying in the cheapest possible locations and buying food from street vendors hardly ever sitting to have a meal at a restaurant. Also, they looked extremely wary of the sweet natured indigenous people of the island. When we eventually had a conversation, it was all about how things were much better back home -They are no better, they are different- I said . That’s the whole point of traveling; the unknown, the different.If you expect things to run like back home then you better stay home.
Those guys were not interested in the Ayamara culture or the Qechua culture or the history of Bolivia, they were there to tick the box of how many countries they could travel before 30 . Truly, had they stayed home reading a book on history, they would have done themselves a favour. They would have been more open-minded and cultured. I couldn’t help but notice how all the white kids “exploring’ the world call themselves “backpackers” while a Nigerian, Congolese , Cuban or Nicaraguan kid who is also a “backpacker” would probably be seen as suspicious. That reminded me of how for example here in Great Britain, they call the Brits abroad “Expats” , while the people who settle here from abroad are immigrants.
Howard Stern once said “If you want to be happy, once a week just go have breakfast in a diner or a cafe all by yourself. Bring a newspaper or book, sit in a sunny window, drink a nice cup of coffee, and read”.
Wise words. To find happiness, to find yourself, to live your life to the fullest, it is simple. No need to go to the ends of the earth. Just go around the corner and have a cup of coffee and enjoy the moment. It’s incredible how well this works for your own happiness. It’s the little things that count. So make your train journey count, your walk to the shops, your coffee break, your own me time, your meeting with a friend, your everyday. Forget about what you wish you could do but can’t/are not doing. Whatever is it you are doing right now, do it with love and love will arrive in the form of a happy being.