“A journey of a thousand miles must begin with a single step.” ~ Lao Tzu
As we travel through life it is easy to stay content where we live. Between the financial demands of everyday life and the time constraints placed on us by our careers, family, and other responsibilities its sometimes hard to fathom fitting in a journey away from home. In addition, the sense of security one gains from being somewhere familiar is hard to argue with. However, much like Bilbo Baggins, in order to live a truly fulfilling life it is imperative one makes time to voyage there and back again every once in a while. Which is why there are a number of reasons taking time to travel is yet another door that must be opened on the quest to find one’s fifty doors.
Travel broadens perspective. The danger of staying in one place for any extended period of time is it becomes increasingly less likely we will be forced to confront ideas and viewpoints we are uncomfortable with. It is not they won’t present themselves, but when we are in a place of familiarity, we have many inherent safeguards that allow us to filter them out. Whether it be visiting another city 300 miles away or a country 3,000 miles away, when we expose ourselves to new outlooks in place we have never been, we are able to lower our defense enough to open our eyes to a larger world. Just like Luke Skywalker, if we ever want to learn the ways of our personal force it is necessary we leave behind our personal Tatooine from time-to-time.
Travel expands a sense of community. The greatest detriment to a productive society is fear of one another. When we huddle into like-minded communities afraid to engage with those different from us, we create a culture of distrust not conducive to an open and free society. By leaving behind our local support networks and social circles for lands unknown we allow ourselves to interact with those much different from us in their backyards. More often than not, this causes us to realize no matter where we come from, fundamentally we share a great deal in common. This alleviates our initial anxiety allowing us to see ourselves as part of the larger society that comprises our world.
Travel disrupts complacency. The older we get the faster time seems to move. In light of this, it becomes easy to fall into a comfortable routine. This state of being can cause us to become rigid and lose the creativity needed to pioneer innovative solutions to life’s problems. By traveling we pull ourselves out of the monotonous machine of our existence and force our minds into a state of refreshed vigor. While in many cases this may only be a temporary respite from the daily grind, it has the potential to refresh our mind enabling us to escape the downward spiral into contentment disguised stagnation. Only then are we truly awake.
The door of travel must be opened regularly throughout our lives to not only broaden our perspective and expand our sense of community, but to disrupt the day-to-day complacency plaguing us as we grow older. There are many factors in our life that may make this difficult. Be it financial or time constraints, we must find a way to overcome these challenges in order to see the corners of our world yet undiscovered. As with any good investment, the short-term costs of making this a priority are far outweighed by the long-term benefits. After all, as the venerable Saint Augustine once said, “The World is a book, and those who do not travel read only a page.”