Tuesday, August 18, 2009

The Purpose of the Journey

As I wrote last week upon our return from Paris, I intend to write a number of different blog entries about our trip. This is the first of those entries, but it doesn’t directly address the trip – instead this entry focuses on the purpose of travel. From an early age my viewpoints about travel were driven by stories of adventure and exploration. I wanted to travel to see all the different sites and go to all the exotic places that the world had to offer. Obviously this was probably a very na├»ve view about what travel meant.

As I got older and I found that my viewpoints about travel were still influenced by writers. In the last 10 years or so it has been the like of writers like Bill Bryson, Michael Palin and Paul Theroux who have influenced my thinking. Theroux has had the biggest influence upon my views of travel. In its most basic form, his philosophy about travel is that it is the journey that matters and not the destination. In fact, very rarely if ever is his travel writing about a destination – it is all about the journey and ultimately what he has discovered about himself as a result of the journey.

For our trip to Europe I selected several books to take with me to read. As I mentioned in a previous post, one of them was the book the “Gold of Troy”. The other was Paul Theroux’s “Ghost Train to the Eastern Star”. This was a book that I had started back in March but I had put down to concentrate on some other projects. There wouldn’t be a better time to read this book than during our trip. I immediately launched into this book once we boarded our first on the journey to Paris. The thought 12 hours of time isolated to myself (well – with Zack in tow) during which I would have no interruptions, no phone calls, no e-mails was a grand thought. Despite being confined to an airplane I had this wonderful book to consume. It would be a good flight – and it was!

As I opened the book and began its consumption, my thoughts immediately turned to what is the real point of this trip and all the other trips I have taken. What do I remember the most of all these trips around the world that I have taken in the last 7 years? I would dare say my memories are not of the countless monuments, cathedrals, government buildings and historic sites I have seen. No – my memories are of the Czech soldiers with whom I shared a train carriage and whole lot of beer during a memorable train ride across the Czech Republic. My memories are of the toothless old man in a small town in India who invited me in to see the mosque of which he was the custodian. My memories are of the prostitutes in Frankfurt who tried to entice me with their “goods”. Those are the things that I remember the most – the people and the experiences that we shared. I still have my list of hundreds if not thousands of “things” I want to see in my travels. In reality I have several lists – one list is of the things listed in the “1000 Things To See Before You Die” book. Another list is of all the sites listed as UNESCO World Heritage sites. I even have a list of all the National Parks in the United States. I will work very hard to check as many things off these lists as possible, but the purpose of my travel will be to learn more of myself – to take experiences, ideas and thoughts away from everyone I meet along the journey. Thanks and peace to all! - J.

1 comment:

Julie Ranae said...

I found your blog thru another creative blog and I am so glad I did. I am a 'frustrated' travel writer 'wanna be'...mainly because there are never enough funds for travel! But I have thoroughly enjoyed going on these journeys with you and your son. Thank you so kindly for sharing