We wake up each morning with a plan to start our day. We begin with a general direction on how things will go, based on the plot points of our previous trajectory: coffee/tea, work, exercise, errands, dinner plans/social event, home, sleep. The next morning, we wake up and do it all over again. And this seemingly, can go on in perpetuity if we don't stop from time to time to inject something foreign into our lives.
Routine is something that seems highly integral to the human psyche, from the time of our childhood, until at least from my personal perspective, into your mid thirties. But the better part of my imagination believes that it follows through the rest of your life, creating tracks that lead us in hopefully, a healthy and productive direction. We like this. It allows us to feel comfortable in a chaotic system of existence, specifically as we negotiate one that is about little more than survival and procreation, but has now evolved into a spectacular blunder of complexity. Even with all the comfort and control the routines of life offer us, it's important to disturb your own personal peace, under conditions that may enhance your growth. This may take place by introducing elements of life and the universe that will grant you potentially stark realizations and realistic awakenings. I'm not talking about some far flung cosmic bullshit; quite the opposite. I'm thinking in terms of blunt exposure to ideas, tastes and flavors that are void in your everyday existence. Think in terms of diet. If you are eating the same things day in and day out for years and years, you may not be adding in other essential nutrients that will foster growth. New ideas for your brain and consciousness are like introducing leafy greens into your digestive system; they're really fucking good for you.
Travel is an elegant form of injection. It is the perfect vehicle to mainline the truth of humanity directly into your bloodstream, with no process of purification standing in between. Travel allows the raw, unfiltered, dirty existence of this planet and its inhabitants, to pump directly into the thick of your veins and coarse through your ventricles to the center of your heart. Impurities, unwanted microbes and potential bacterium, along with harmful viruses can find their way in, and start attacking the immune system. But the immune system gathers strength by doing the action of its namesake: encountering, fighting and developing immunity, provided it is nurtured to be stronger than its moments of weakness. And upon healing, it grows stronger and stronger, until the next round of foreign substances are introduced. Growth can be painful at times. Growth can cause heightened discomfort. In other instances, it may be so subtle that it seems nearly unidentifiable.
The point is, growth takes place around us every day in minute fashions. But the golden block of growth, the moments where the epiphanies occur and the beauty is found, are during those unforeseen moments that blindside you with no warning. These can feel like a devastating hand full of horseshit smacking you in the side of the face. At other times, it may feel more like a kiss from a modern day Helen of Troy. Either way, your attention is lodged in the careless grip of the collective consciousness until you swallow the truth of the world around you. Sometimes it's a jagged pill the size of your thumbnail and at others, it's the best breathe mint that has ever dissolved on the tip of your tongue. I've had both.
I travel because I cannot bear the feeling of being isolated from the rest of the world, specifically when I interrogate my mind and its stagnant belief structure. To know there are multiple mentalities, cultural practices, creatures that inhabit every corner of the planet and people that want to kill you because of where you are from, is enough to seduce the curious man into lacing up his shoes and grabbing his passport, in order to hit the first exit door from this world and finding entry into the greater human experience. That unbridled curiosity creates a human Petri dish for growth, where new ideas and concepts that were acquired from distant lands, find the prime host, temperature and moisture to foster developmental proliferation at breakneck speed.
The greatest education I've ever received has been my time on the road. In certain moments, travel is a crash course in the anthropological madness that exists in this wacky world. During other moments, travel is the decompression of the anxiety that builds in our shoulders. It is the crick in your neck and the release when you crack it, all in the same breath. Travel is a speculum, used to force your eyes open until they both water and dry out; it is our chance to bathe ourselves in the the purity of truth, and to scrape off the dirt and grim of bigotry and ignorance. In this essence, I love the following quote by America's finest satirist, speaking to one of travel's greatest accomplishments:
"Travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry, and narrow-mindedness, and many of our people need it sorely on these accounts. Broad, wholesome, charitable views of men and things cannot be acquired by vegetating in one little corner of the earth all one's lifetime." - Mark Twain
Fatal to prejudice and bigotry........there is a man who has seen the other side of life and has fostered his own personal growth through travel.