Life is a sum of all our experiences. A collection of moments that with time, become memories you ponder, and stories you tell. I’ve always found it hard to find fault in this saying.
When you break experience down, by definition, it is simply practical contact with an event or object. It’s an encounter. Observing a tree is an experience. Hearing the tram rattle past your street. Any kind of sensory contact with the world is defined as such.
But definitions are practical and never really live up to the true meaning of a word. Experience especially. It’s so much more than that because in life, there’s no better substitute for knowledge, learning or feeling.
For me, experience has always been at its highest when one is travelling. Since the first time I journeyed away from home, I realised that being away increased my levels of awareness. Every particle of our being becomes conscious of the things it sees and senses, because travel gives us the opportunity to explore, taste and try new things.
Our eyes forget to blink from constant ogling. Our noses inhale deeply, trying to make sense of new smells. We feel with eagerness because we want to take everything in so hastily.
Travel becomes the realest kind of freedom. Controlled by no one but you.
Outside of our daily routines, travel brings us to the foreground of the unfamiliar, the interesting. In a way, roaming and wandering without obligations becomes a kind of active idleness. Unlike routines and work, travel gives us leisure, and the capacity for stimulating thought. We contemplate and we reflect outside of what we typically see or know. In other words, we learn.
While I haven’t been as brave and fearless in my travels as some people I’ve met, I’ve encountered many unforgettable experiences. In 2012, after living for six months on the road with savings, my girlfriend and I both needed more. The urge to explore wouldn’t die down. So we took out a loan and continued our journey in Europe. We were both in pursuit of something greater than the sum of the experiences we’d already had. Together we embarked upon a journey to meet new people, make new friends, see new places and even more importantly, explore new ways of thinking.
For example, I’ve always been attracted to architecture but it wasn’t until we visited Venice that I began to think differently of it. I let go and became truly lost in the greatest pedestrian city in the world. I no longer saw architecture as buildings but art
The word wanderlust is used to describe a longing to travel and wonder. I believe we all possess this desire. Travel is simply inherent in us all. Germans have a beautiful word to describe this feeling; ‘Fernweh’ which translates to farsickness, coined as an antonym to ‘Heimweh,’ homesickness.
The British philosopher Bertrand Russell, foretold that the modern mind is constantly revving but rarely engaged in gear.
If you take a step back and observe, you can easily see that today’s fast-paced society is dictated by technology. We have escaped the real for the unreal, where we encounter technically fabricated engagements that rev our minds. They are fun at first touch, but they don’t possess the impact of longevity. They keep us out of gear.
Our dreams won’t get lost on the Latin Bridge in Sarajevo or beneath the Brandenburg Gate in Berlin. But they will get lost in a load of digital feeds. If it’s true that in our lives, 70 percent of our time will be spent before screens, then travel must take precedent.
Be it a trip down the coast, or a flight to an island, we need to fulfill our need for farsickness. It doesn’t only have the ability to teach us about true empathy. More importantly, it has the power to teach us about ourselves.
There are many great ways to summarise what life is, but the ‘sum of all our experiences’ seems most accurate. Our thoughts, our footsteps and encounters. Our loves lost and regained. Our tears and anger. Joy and bliss. Fear and danger. Rapture and sense of identity. That is life and being aware makes it fantastic.
And travel? Let it be the biggest fraction of that sum.