I’ve got a friend who tends to be rather disdainful of traveling. Is he a cheapskate? Yep. But he also feels that going on faraway excursions and jaunts is a rather frivolous and needless endeavor.
Whenever he does leave the environs of his cozy home, you usually can find him staying with family members or friends, enjoying their domiciles (and food supplies). Taking tours of intriguing points of interest is not in his wheelhouse.
Like I said, he might be viewed as a bit of a miser. But at the same time, he says there’s a credible reason for his lack of adventurousness and inquisitiveness of the world.
“Every place is basically the same, no matter how you slice it,” he says. “Yes, some places are more interesting and prettier than others. But generally speaking, every place is the same. It’s the people that really count, and that’s why I prefer visiting my peeps more than places.”
Well, that’s certainly one way to look at it. Arguably — and perhaps surprisingly — the great George Harrison might’ve agreed with my pal. In his song “The Inner Light,” the dearly departed Beatle sang, “Without going out of your door/You can know all things on earth … The farther one travels/The less one knows.”
Normally, you’d never think of my compadre and “The Quiet Beatle” in the same breath. But I strongly suspect that what ol’ George was alluding to was the concept that one needn’t seek out a mountain summit or grandiose temple in the middle of nowhere to attain enlightenment and understanding. After all, he tended to be the most cosmic of the Fab Four.
I know what my friend and George are saying, but I must respectfully disagree. Traveling and getting outside of one’s daily routine and comfort zone, even for a short spell, can help us view the world (and the universe, for that matter) for what it truly is — a lot bigger than you or me. Traveling provides perspective and nuance, and expands one’s intellect and curiosity. It regenerates the batteries and nourishes the soul to observe places one has never seen before and meet people who may have an alternative perspective or manner of living.
Somewhere in the mounds of old, weathering photos crammed into a cupboard in my house, I have a picture of myself from the early ‘90s while on a journey to Israel. Wearing jeans and a T-shirt, I’m standing on a grassy hillside on a picture-perfect day with the resplendent city of Haifa and the Mediterranean shoreline and the sparkling Bay of Haifa in the background. My arms are thrust wide open, almost as if I’m preparing to take flight, and I’m beaming from ear to ear.
I tend to be someone who doesn’t care for photos of myself, but I enjoy looking at this picture from time to time because of the expression on my face and the beauty of the landscape. I look ecstatic, healthy, young and … free. That’s not a feeling or look you can get while hanging out in your backyard or TV room, and that’s what makes traveling so essential to our lives and well-being.
We welcome you to read our annual Travel Issue, chock-full of stories about such far-flung places as England, Uganda, Pittsburgh, San Miguel de Allende and Israel. It’ll make you want to get out there and follow the sun.