The moon stood high in the sky while I sat comfortably on the Monkey Hostel porch on the Thai island Koh Samui accompanied by an American backpacker. We talked about our motivations to travel. More precisely, travelling by ourselves. Aware of the value of the experiences you gain and life lessons you learn while exploring the world. We spoke of our friends back home who would benefit big time by going on an adventure like this. – For me the adventure was studying for three months in Thailand and travel through South East Asia for two months. All by myself. – To our disappointment we had to conclude we couldn’t force them. And we both knew some of them will never go. Wanderlust doesn’t flow through everyone’s veins.
It’s most likely that the ones who are reading this blog can identify with wanderlust, since you’re somehow linked to ESN. Eager to explore the world and broaden your horizon. The use of the terms ‘veins’ and ‘identify’ are not random. There are actually studies which sort of claim wanderlust –or at least characteristics like curiosity and restlessness- are embedded within our genes, our DNA. Check out this article for more information about these kinds of researches. Funny thing, isn’t it?
Well, even the ones who do have the wanderlust gene can’t travel forever. Okay, some people actually do. Trust me. I met them. They exist. But there are other ways to satisfy your eager to explore. For instance, I like to discover new spots in my home town and surrounding. Most of the time you don’t realize it, but you have certain routes you take through the city, a handful of spots you go for lunch or drinks and so on. When I realized some internationals knew more interesting spots in Utrecht than I did after living here for five years I knew it was time for a change! I admit, changing the route you bike to let’s say the university doesn’t make sense since the route you’re taking now is probably the shortest. But you can for example change the route you take during your morning run. And when you go out for lunch with your friends, always try a new restaurant. This made me discover the recently opened restaurant Venue [Varkenmarkt 16, Utrecht] last Wednesday evening and the really cute breakfast-lunch-dinner place Tastoe [Zadelstraat 20, Utrecht] last Friday afternoon.
Don’t get me wrong, I still love to see the whole wide world. And I will. Just let me keep my dream alive. But travelling also made me much more aware of what I have here at home. There is so much to be deeply thankful for. And I think that’s part of the wanderlust-charm. Being far away can offer you the right perspective. Whether it makes you realize other cultures have practices, norms and values your own culture can definitely learn from or whether it makes you realize it’s not all that bad back home. It all works enlightening. So please treasure your wanderlust, because it’s wonderful.
It’s ridiculous I’m doing this, but I’m actually going to quote myself. While writing this article, I realized I wrote a short piece about the same topic a long time ago. In Dutch. So I took the liberty of translating it for you.
The art of traveling
Where does the urge to travel come from? Packing your back and drag it to another place on earth. On one side travelling gives us the confirmation of mobility and freedom. We can go wherever we want. On the other side it makes us realize how attached we are to our own home. During our travels you visit spots which are considered ‘home’ for others. Spots we explore with full attention. With more attention than we ever looked at our own street. Once back home, we might try to look at our own environment with the same attention. It’s a start, but it will never be with so much attention as the foreign places. The distance we create between ourselves and our homes makes us feel closer to home. The distance gives us the chance to relativize.
Basically we experience the same process as an artist. While working, an artist is up close to his piece. He almost merges with the piece. Every sense of objectivity is absent. Until he stops working on the piece and takes a few steps back. The distance he creates between him and the piece brings an amazing amount of objectivity. All of a sudden he sees what’s missing. All of a sudden he sees that he needs to add a little green to the blue color in the upper right corner. We’re not talking about immense interventions. Just a few brushstrokes can be sufficient to bind the fragmented pieces into one.
This sense of objectivity is also gained by travelling. For a while we distance ourselves from our daily routine. This distance will confront us with the missing brushstrokes once back home. We see ourselves through someone else’s eyes. An enlightening view.