Anyone who has been to any sort of socialising event will no doubt have come across the well travelled person who loves to talk not necessarily about where they’ve travelled, but about how it has changed them. How it has made them find themselves and made them realise what truly matters. I was recently positioned with such a person at a gathering, with them the least-worst option of mingling, and it got me wondering… if this person’s view of travelling/oration of travel experience annoys me so much, why do I personally then travel? After all, it’s expensive and takes up a lot of time so there must be a damn good reason why I like it so much AND why I choose to spend my free time blogging on it too.
Well, straight up the thing that comes to me is simply that you get to see beautiful sights. I’ve been lucky enough to get to see some of the world’s most travelled to locations, from the natural beauty of The Grand Canyon to the manmade impressiveness of cities like Rome and its colosseum. But what is it that makes me compelled to go see these things? It can’t simply be the superficiality of ‘these things are beautiful’ – can it? Well, yes, actually, it can. Why does a sight have to change you. Why does an experience have to be valued based on how it impacts you, not on simply how enjoyable it is.
From browsing pyschologytoday and brainyquotes quotes on beauty it seems that most ideas revolve around the eye of the beholder and about beauty not being skin deep and simply visual. However for me Keats has got it right:
A thing of beauty is a joy for ever:
Its loveliness increases; it will never
Pass into nothingness.
– John Keats, Endymion
It’s not why something is beautiful that matters, simply that it is and to enjoy it. Take for example this photograph taken by me of Budgies J and Al walking in the Swiss mountains.
The location was stunning and together we got to stroll through this stunningness for many hours: Stopping on the side of a secluded waterfall for a packed lunch, resting on the sheer rockface for a drink of water and simply stopping for no reason at all to just admire the view. This stopping and admiring is key. Stopping to admire the beauty around us. When do we get this chance when we are not in ‘travelling’ mode? Yet when we travel we get to to do it a lot and this is what is special about travelling.
For example, budgie Al is a clinical, cold, rational Slytherin of a man whose heart is barely in his body yet alone on his sleeve. Yet, when I’ve been travelling with him I’ve seen him physically stop in his tracks and moan out a ‘wow’ from a view: a hidden and surprise lake on Mount Tamalpais for example and the first glimpse down into the Grand Canyon come to mind. He’s also said these very words which I think sum up in many ways what I’ve been saying: “let’s just stop and look. No photos, no phones. Let’s just look and admire.” (Said whilst looking out from the Golden Gate Bridge).
And yes, there is a part of me now concerned that this is potentially crossing into the ‘travel changed me’ areas with me realising that beauty is awe inspiring and makes you stop and think… But no, let’s face it, this is still actually quite shallow. I’ve always known that I’m attracted to attractive things. I didn’t need to travel to realise this. It’s just that travelling is one of the only times when you’re allowed to appreciate beauty and that allows you to see it. So I guess this post’s message is twofold.
1) appreciate beauty because it’s beautiful.
2) don’t feel ashamed of the fact that you simply want to travel to see beautiful things. Just because others (genuinely or not) talk of their life changing experiences from travelling doesn’t mean that this is the correct way to travel. It’s just as important to stop and smell the roses.
Matt (the beautiful).