I know I haven’t been doing as well as I should in terms of updating my blog with new entries, only because a lot has been going on. I have been living and working in The Daintree Rainforest for the past three months which has been an incredible experience not only for inspiration but also for the mentality. Being in such a remote location with minor distractions, I was again able to evaluate certain aspects of life that once plagued my mind. Existential questions such as “Why are we here?”, “What are we all doing?” and “What is the point of it all?” had resurfaced, yet in a less threatening demeanour as they had before. I didn’t so much have an answer to any of those questions but in the midst of my thoughts, another uncertainty manifested itself. One I found easier to comprehend and give an answer to.
Almost everybody has an idea of what travel is and what it does for you, how to do it either cheap or luxuriously and even when and where to go. But why? Why travel? Is it because we want to break the monotony of our lives? See something different? Post cool pictures on Instagram to show off how awesome our lives are? Maybe it’s because we realise that there is more to life than just living one, therefore we seek another way to? Some has their personal reasons why and some are simply just going with the flow. Here are a few things I’ve realised on the move as to why I do.
To realise your place in the world.
Simply put, pretty much everyone on this planet thinks that it revolves around them. And that’s just wrong. Wrong because it’s not true and wrong because that kind of mentality doesn’t benefit anybody else and it can be a reason as to why humanity is going on a downward spiral. Generation selfie, walking around with selfie sticks silently screaming “look at me”, so that all our friends on Facebook can see how fantastic their lives could be. When in reality that’s not the case. The people that click their fingers in the restaurant and complain that their server cannot speak the language they speak. A lot of people have this mentality and they don’t even realise it, which in the larger scale doesn’t really matter but on the smaller scale it can make a difference to someone’s day which in turn can affect others around them. The world is a big place and travelling will make you see that. You will meet hundreds of people, all with distinct personalities which would either align or conflict with your own and you will hopefully realise your place. You are no better nor are you worse than anyone else. You just are. Another human. Just like the rest of us. You will be surrounded by creatures other than your own species which also inhabit this planet, some harmless and some so dangerous that one wrong move and you have your life to pay for. Why travel? To eradicate this mentality that the world revolves around us. To realise that you are not the only person who lives on this planet and to understand that ones upbringing is not the only way of life. Lastly, to be humble, to be aware of different cultures and practices and not shun them but embrace them because they are different.
To improve neuroplasticity.
Neuroplasticity is the term for when our brains changes due to the exposure to new things and grows. It is highly linked to creativity and overall brain fitness. Due to the pressures of adulthood, either socially or financially, us humans, find comfort in routines. To work a steady job to get our pay checks, so that we can pay rent and bills and hopefully have enough left to socialise with our friends, save for an upcoming holiday or even feed our addiction to various substances. We get settled into this lifestyle and so do our brains. The lack of exposure to new activities and other factors in life decreases the chance of our brain’s ability to mould and adapt. I’m not saying that you have to travel to improve brain plasticity because you don’t. Nor does it mean that your creativity levels will sky rocket once you do because it doesn’t. Neuroplasticity improves when your brain is exposed to something new. Learning a new skill, whether a language, an instrument or whatever else you can think of. Doing mind stimulating activities or even just reading or writing. All achievable without the means of leaving the comfort of your home. Realistically however, what are the odds of you doing any of that when you have settled into a life of netflix, takeaway and heavy nights out as a means to relax from your stressful job. Something I asked myself a lot when I worked 50+ hour weeks as a cook and something I’d like you to ask yourselves. Realistically, what are the odds. At the same time, a two month binge in South East Asia probably wont do your neuroplasticity so well either, in fact, it will probably destroy it even more, but that is travelling, as much as going on a pub crawl is travelling, which I will speak about more on later posts. For some the conventional lifestyle works and it works well. But for the rest, well, it can be a very unsettling notion. Why travel? To breakaway from stasis and to embrace change. To expose yourself to new things which in turn will help your brain grow as a mind and help you grow as a person. To have the chance to pick up new skills from the people you meet and in turn give someone a chance to learn from you. Lastly, to stimulate your mind and feed it with the world so that it doesn’t die not knowing that there could have been another way.
To appreciate life and what you have.
Our species is riddled with flaws. Greed induced poverty, selfishness and disregard for others because of our pride and humanity’s lust for power which has led to countless genocides and the destruction of our planet. We are the smartest species as we have the potential to exceed in science and create mechanisms that could be beneficial for all yet we are also the dumbest as instead of creating, we destroy. We destroy the only habitable planet in our solar system with the other “potentially” habitable planet being lightyears away. No one ever thinks about that. About what will happen when there are no more trees and all water is polluted, because everyone is too distracted following the latest beauty trend or what these moronic rich people on reality television are doing. Too distracted by the latest pop song that has one hypnotic tone and very simple lyrics, a 10 year old could have written, if they had been exposed to the life of a very disturbed adult. Too focused on other people’s lives rather than our own. Fact is, being a traveller you are exposed to what is happening in the real world. You have no desire to focus on other people’s lives as you are too occupied managing your own, no time to follow trends as you’re too busy chasing your next adventure. And in chasing your next adventure you see the world for what it really is. You become aware of poverty first hand as oppose to seeing those horrible adverts on TV about it. The underlying anger of indegenous tribes towards man, after a brutal massacre of an entire culture that has been dismissed by the rest of the world. The destruction of cities due to wars and natural disasters that hasn’t been restored due to corruption. But in all of the negativity, you see humanity survive and power through. You see them try to rebuild. You see them go on with a smile on their face as if to say tomorrow will be a better day. If travelling has taught me anything, it’s that humans all want the same thing. To have food, water and shelter, safety for themselves and their loved ones and to be part of a community and watch that community grow. We will never truly appreciate what has happened on our planet in the past hundreds or even thousands of years but being out there experiencing it for yourself really puts your life in perspective. It makes you realise the struggles and triumphs of humanity and raise awareness to the fact that your life is just amongst billions of other lives all coexisting on the same place, trying to get by each day.
So the next time you ask yourselves Why travel? Just know that it’s not just about taking pictures at landmarks, partying until you’ve forgotten who you are or going just because your newsfeed is full of pretty photographs, because, and I hope that a majority of people would agree with me here, there is more to it than that.