Being an avid traveler, it often crosses my mind, what are the benefits and learning that each travel brings. While amongst the obvious are multi culture awareness, visiting new and varied places, I firmly believe that there are quite a few intangible rewards which cannot be captured with a camera or penned in words. Further, what is the pre requisite or quality that makes the travel most cherished? Is it money, an impeccable itinerary, the perfect company or the ideal weather? Are we missing an essential ingredient?
Though I haven’t travelled extensively, I can claim that I have travelled reasonably well over the past 20 years or so. Travel for me has, mostly, been with family and a couple of solo sojourns to explore the wilderness of the African jungles. One thing I noticed is that our mind tends to wander around either in the past or think too much of an unseen future when we are out on a holiday. Perhaps it is a luxury the idle mind likes to indulge in. However, having forsaken the present, my learning through all these travels has been to “stay in present”. I think to enjoy “the here and now”, “the moment” being mindfully present is extremely important to have a good holiday.
People travel for different purpose. I have seen people sleeping through wild life safaris while the rest are curiously observing the animals. People staying in rooms and not stepping out at a scenic beach. Essentially, this brings out another fact that people also travel under compulsion or just as an excuse to get out of home. It really doesn’t matter to them if they are travelling to Paris or Timbuktu. Here, am not referring to such people. I am talking about people who genuinely love to travel and want to most of their trip and the efforts put into it.
Coming back to “Stay in present”, what does it really mean? Also why is it so important to be in the present? It often happens that, when you see something you tend to relate it to the past or imagine the future. Essentially you miss enjoying and appreciating what is there right in front of you i.e.; you do not live the moment. You bring in comparison and hence some level of dissatisfaction many a times. The thoughts that usually accompany the comparison are ‘hey, the earlier one was better”, ‘I wish I had gone to the same place this time too”, or “this month is a bad month to have come here” etc. Many people ask, so, what is the harm? Strictly speaking, no superficial damages. But, think deeper, why are you here? What was the purpose of your travel? Did you travel all the way to see the beautiful Swiss Alps or you wanted to compare it with Kanchenjunga? Or you wanted to “test” which part of the year is ideal to sight rhinos in Kaziranga? While all these are important, my point here is that these need not be done at that point in time. Either one should have done all this before he sets out to travel or can mull over the learning when the trip concludes. When you are at your favorite destination, just be there, seize the moment, live the real. Unless, you are there to critically evaluate. Which I am sure is not the purpose of most travelers.
Now comes the second point, are we there just to see the apparent or do we delve deeper? Shouldn’t a traveler exhibit curiosity to know and learn more? In an African jungle, do you want to just look at the lion or also observe the colorful butterflies and majestic birds that complete the scenery? Do I just scratch the surface or dig deeper, observe the obvious or read between the lines? Do I stick to the predefined itinerary or do I try doing something outside as well while adhering to the itinerary in terms of punctuality etc? Here I am referring to my next learning “Curiosity”. How important is curiosity for a traveler? I think it is extremely important and with each trip I realise its contribution towards the success of the expedition. In my early trips, an animal was just any ordinary animal, but now I see beyond just their existence. I get deeper into their habitats, observe the peculiarities, characteristics, their like and annoyances. So, it’s not about zooming the camera and clicking their picture alone, it’s beyond that. It’s the urge to know more, the oneness, inquisitiveness to know what is not apparent. If a traveler doesn’t demonstrate that curiosity, it is quite likely that he may end up missing a famous restaurant or historical site nearby or miss their local cuisine. Not demonstrating this curiosity doesn’t mean that the traveler hasn’t achieved anything, it only means that he might have missed something subtle, not too obvious that was the reward of the curious traveler.
While on a holiday, stay in present and be curious, indulge your senses in the sights, smells, sounds of the scenery, the oneness with your surroundings.