To Travel Is to Live

“The world is a book,
and those who do not travel
read only one page.”

-St. Augustine

This semester, I get to study abroad. I will be studying in Austria. I just know that it is one of the best experiences that I will ever haveTravel the world. I will have the opportunity to travel across Europe. I will get to see works of art architecture. I will be able to experience God’s beautiful grandeur in places I’ve never been. I will be able to celebrate the Eucharist in languages I don’t understand. Wherever I go in the United States, I always feel familiar and comfortable, because I have a general idea of where I am. While I may not live in some of those parts, I’m not exactly considered a foreigner. Robert Louis Stevenson said, “There are no foreign lands. It is the traveler only who is foreign.” My life is comfortable. I know where I am (most of the time). I want to have that opportunity to be foreign. I want to not know where I am. I want to be lost where it is socially acceptable for me to be lost. I want go where I’ve never been. I want to be foreign. I want to travel the world. This semester, I get the opportunity to do so.

I am seeking new lands (new for me, at least). It may be quite cliché, but I want to see the world in new ways. My life is stagnant; I’m complacent. I’m too comfortable. It takes discomfort to make a person want to change. Trials, difficulties, adversities require a person to respond to their surroundings, to change. I know that that is what I need. I need those difficulties. I need to be able to be lost in a place I’ve never been. I need to contemplate my incompleteness as I ponder on works of beauty, works of art that I’ve never experienced. My life has come to a halt. Travel is what can make me see beyond my small life. I have to be brought outside of myself. On top of being able to experience things I’ve never experienced, I’m able to figure out where I am.

While tourists seek the sights, pilgrims seek the experience. Tourists want to see; pilgrims want to, for lack of a better term, feel. Tourists want to go and see the sights because they are there. They seek to almost simply become cultured by seeing the sights. They look for that destination. Pilgrims are on a journey. Now, what journey they are on is not always the same. But the pilgrim revels in the pilgrimage, the odyssey. While tourists are in it for the endpoint, pilgrims are in it for the experiences. Whether it be art, or nature, or just the difficulties along this journey, pilgrims allow their experience to become a part of who they are. They revel in the experience, giving them new lenses through which to see the world, their relationships, themselves. The odyssey is the most important part for them. I don’t just want to be a tourist. Everything throughout life should affect me. I want to be a pilgrim on a journey, on an adventure that makes a lasting difference. My semester abroad won’t be easy, and I don’t want it to be. I want to experience what I can, so that I can become all that I can.

“I travel not to go anywhere,
but to go. I travel for travel’s sake.
The great affair is to move.”

-Robert Louis Stevenson

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Duc In Altum

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3 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. animusatramenti
    Jan 20, 2014 @ 16:07:21

    Well said.

    Reply

  2. jessicatherese
    Jan 20, 2014 @ 18:36:14

    That last paragraph reminds me of something I’ve been pondering for a while now – the whole myth that “happiness is a journey, not a destination.” I read a blogpost a while ago which pointed out that tourists travel to (for example) Rome, to see the architecture and experience the culture and see the sights and revel in the thrill of being somewhere far, far away etc., etc…. Pilgrims travel to Saint Peter’s Basilica because they believe God is present there and has a purpose in specifically blessing them through His presence in that cathedral. It’s the same with our life here – do we treat this earthly existence with the excitable impulsivity of a tourist or the gravity and holy indifference of a pilgrim? I’m so excited for Austria to remind us that, as Saint Therese says, “The world’s thy ship and not thy home.”

    Reply

  3. Trackback: Just One Step | Eärendil Star

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