Show Your Faces If You Dare


Clive J. from the UK asked: What do you know as a result of travel the rest of us don’t?

I think the most important lessons are things we forget in the day to day, not things we don’t know.

When you’re cut off out there on the road, the everyday frivolity of life at home – office politics, the rat race, “noble” ambitions, catching every episode of some stupid TV series – it all falls away until you’re left with that pure, radiant core. You come to realize very quickly what is truly important to you. Traveling light, with all your necessities boiled down to what fits into your bag, you also realize what little you need to survive and what little you need to be happy.

The road also teaches you to understand social networks and the way in which images and personas are shaped. You see the larger perspective, or the omniscient view perhaps, because you exist outside of the social structure of the places you’re traveling through, and as such you aren’t governed by their rules of conduct. You can act in a place without being a part of it. You’re treated in a manner that doesn’t reflect your past, your background, your accomplishments or your social status, a manner that only reflects the “you” that you present at that moment. It’s incredibly revealing.

As for added knowledge, travel does give you a perspective on the wider world. It seems obvious to say it, but you realize that your philosophy and the philosophy and moral code of your culture doesn’t apply everywhere else. People live differently and they get along just fine. The harshest culture shock is the one you experience on returning home. It causes you to question everything and to reject some of what you’d always taken for granted, foundational beliefs of your culture and your society. You come to realize what shaky intellectual ground we are all actually standing on.

About the author

Ryan Murdock

Author of A Sunny Place for Shady People and Vagabond Dreams: Road Wisdom from Central America. Host of Personal Landscapes podcast. Editor-at-Large (Europe) for Canada's Outpost magazine. Writer at The Shift. Fellow of the Royal Geographical Society.

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