Travel

travel

Traveling is a luxury that many people allow themselves to indulge in; however, it is not vital to life. Man cannot live on travel alone. It is not necessary to the wellbeing of a human. While it is unnecessary to the survival of a human being, it is not true that travel is unimportant. Humanity has the elements needed to survive on earth, but is mere existence everything? If a person has simply what he needs, has this person reached his fullest potential of living? Life should go further than basic needs. It should touch the person on a different level. God gave humanity far more than the essentials. On earth are many possibilities for a deeper and better existence. Among those possibilities is travel. Humanity should take part in travel for the leisure of travel, the experience of travel, and the education received from travel.

Travel is a luxury that is best enjoyed in leisure. When a person takes time to enjoy and experience travel in leisure, that travel can lead to deep joy. In On the Unseriousness of Human Affairs, James Schall advocates a contemplative life, a life with time set aside for leisure and enjoyment. He asserts that “Aristotle suggests that oftentimes the closest we come to contemplation in our lives is when we play. And neither play nor contemplation can be, strictly speaking, necessary.” Play leads a person to contemplation and contemplation leads a person to deeper existence. Schall suggests that it is typical to think of work as “obviously serious, but play and the deeds of leisure frivolous, or at least unnecessary.” This is a backward way of thinking and those who hold to this belief have it all wrong. Work is less serious than many believe, no more necessary than leisure and play. God worked for six days, creating the world and everything in it; on the seventh, he set apart that day to rest from His work. He didn’t need the Sabbath. To say that would suggest that He is less powerful and mighty than the Bible teaches. But God still set apart this day of leisure to abstain from working. It was a noble thing that he has called humanity to observe to this day. Like the Sabbath, play can be noble. The fact that play is so unnecessary and yet humanity still takes part in it is the sort of freedom that makes it noble. Travel is unnecessary to human existence, yet it is still enjoyed and done by many people. In this fact -the unnecessariness of it – it is necessary. Setting apart time for travel is a noble act. It can lead to a more contemplative life, which often results in the discovery of God Himself.

There is a certain beauty about people losing themselves in things other than themselves. Children are experts in the art of absorbing themselves in their play. Boys will sit and build small, blockish kingdoms for hours, while young girls lose themselves in dressing their favorite dolls and acting out their futures. Traveling can surface the inner child in people. When they travel, they experience different places and people. They become absorbed in something that is more that themselves. “The world is too much with us, and we are too much with ourselves,” the philosopher George Santayana wrote. “We need sometimes to escape into open solitudes, into aimlessness, into the moral holiday of running.” Escape is not something a person should live for, but it is good for a person to escape occasionally. There is value and rest in solitude and aimlessness. These things are only frivolous in excess. It is important to remember the value to being absorbed in something other than oneself. Travel can open the door to solitude and aimlessness. It can also lead to absorption in a different culture, in other people, and in new experiences. When a person experiences new things and travels to a place beyond their own home, they remember that the world is larger than their own lives. While travel can lead to solitude and self-inspection, it can also remind a person that more exists beyond their small world.

Besides all these things, travel has educational value. By travelling, people learn about different cultures and the world around them. In ancient Greece, a man was not considered fully educated until he had spent time traveling. Traveling in ancient times was vastly different. It came with difficulties and more preparations than traveling today comes with. Traveling was not easy, but it was necessary. Today, it is less necessary, but much easier. A person can live a “successful” life without ever traveling far from their hometown. With the internet, a person does not have to travel far to understand different cultures, thus making it an option to settle with never going far from home. While the internet can be helpful in many situations, it should never replace real experiences. The real experience of traveling is far more valuable than a digital one. If a person has the means to travel, travel can further their education. Experiencing different surroundings and cultures is important to understanding the world. When traveling, people face so many opportunities that are impossible to find at home. Schall asserts that the best education is the one where “our souls are involved.” He explains that sometimes, even in the most expensive colleges, students don’t receive great educations because their souls are not engaged. While traveling cannot be the sole method of education, it is a method that engages a person’s soul. This leads to increased understanding and knowledge. All that is needed is the courage to pursue the highest things.

Schall concludes his final chapter by saying “joylessness is not our destiny. Joy is the receiving of what we love, even in the highest things. The highest things absorb us, and this is our pleasure; this is why we are at all.” The unnecessary things in life give joy. They make the necessary things worth doing. Just as people should not absorb themselves in the unnecessary things completely, they should not become completely absorbed in the necessary things. Travel, among the unnecessary things, should not become the sole purpose for a person’s life.  However, travel can add so much richness and depth to life that it is an important thing to be involved in. It can bring joy, abandon, and education. Experiencing new surroundings and people can result in a sort of joyful abandoning of oneself that can be educational and beneficial to a deeper, contemplative life. When a person works hard in the community he or she calls home, the luxury of escaping occasionally to another place becomes a sweeter and a more joyful experience. In a way, travel makes living at home worth it.

 

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Schall, James. 2001. On the Unseriousness of Human Affairs. Wilmington, Delaware: ISI Books.
Santayana, George, and William G. Holzberger. The Letters of George Santayana. Cambridge, Mass: MIT Press, 2001.
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