Lucas Enrique Fernandez

September 8th Progym

Traveling With An Open Mind

Thesis or Theme:

Without looking, set the scene outside your window right now. Even if you do not get every detail correctly, the majority of what you describe should be correct due to your familiarity with the area surrounding you. Now if I were to say to travel to a different country and perform the same task, it may prove to be much more difficult. Travel breeds unfamiliarity, travel pushes us to move outside of the comfortably constructed worlds we trap ourselves in during the daily routines of our lives. That is why Pico Iyer argues the reason we travel to escape from our lives, wake up our minds, and in turn learn more about ourselves from our journey.

Iyer perfectly captures the essence of travel in his opening paragraph. Claiming that

We travel, initially, to lose ourselves; and we travel, next, to find ourselves. We travel to open our hearts and eyes and learn more about the world than our newspapers will accommodate… And we travel, in essence, to become young fools again — to slow time down and get taken in, and fall in love once more.”

This idea drives home the first point that we travel to escape from our daily lives. Adventure allows us to alleviate the pains and struggles of which we face at home and “slow time down” in an experience that allows us to take in and appreciate our world. Iyer also makes the connection that travel is a way for our minds to wake up, remarking,

And if travel is like love, it is, in the end, mostly because it’s a heightened state of awareness, in which we are mindful, receptive, undimmed by familiarity and ready to be transformed.

We must keep our minds open when we travel, looking with an innocent eye, receptive to everything the experience has to offer. If we do not do this then we are not completely devoting ourselves to our travels, which is a waste of time. The final component of why we travel is to learn about ourselves, Iyer remarks

if more and more of us have to carry our sense of home inside us, we also — Emerson and Thoreau remind us — have to carry with us our sense of destination.

In our travels we take with us a sense of home, but when we take to our travels it gives us a break from that allowing for us to deeply reflect on our lives and home and instill a sense of yearning for what we have already.

Some may argue that travel is not all about reflection, some people just travel for the fun of that. To that I ask, are you not travelling to leave behind your normal lives? You are seeking fun, but why not seek that fun at home? Travel provides the escape from the familiarity and the mundane in normal life. Next, to be able to have this fun, do you not have to keep your mind open in your travels? Sometimes you must stray from the road most popularly traveled and be truly receptive to the culture of the place you are traveling to have the most pleasurable experience. Lastly, once you are done with these travels do you not find yourself reflecting on the journey you took, or of what life will be like once you get back home? In that moment, your travels have granted you the gift of self-reflection both a reason why and a positive outcome of travel.

The memories from our travels live on in our hearts, even in William Wordsworth’s poem I Wandered Lonely As A Cloud the author finds himself thinking about the sights he saw during his travels later on his couch. Travel provides us with sparks of knowledge, of which we would never find otherwise. Taking steps into the unknown in these places where that is all that surrounds us, allows for people to shed the ignorance of knowledge and become learners anew. The joy of travel is taking this open-mindedness back home with us, to hold until the next time we find ourselves yearning for the unfamiliar.

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