Just picture it: you’re flicking through the thick, glossy pages of a travel brochure. The white sandy beaches, or the cobbled streets of a far away city are beckoning you. ‘Come here,’ they say, ‘don’t you want to get away for a while?’ Before you know it, you’ve booked your flights and are preparing for the trip of a lifetime. The thought of sitting on a white sandy beach keeps you plugging through daily life until your departure date. You’re excited at the prospect of a few weeks off work, excited at the prospect of getting some distance between yourself and the work presentation you have to give when you get back, excited at the prospect of having some time off from domestic duties. But, guess what? Those troubles that stay with you throughout your daily life aren’t just going to disappear as soon as you get on a plane. Those troubles and worries are confined inside your head, and, guess what? You can’t leave them behind unless you leave behind the vessel that houses them; you!
The few moments you spent flicking through those thick, glossy brochures was just enough time to be able to concentrate solely on imagining yourself strewn out on a sun lounger (mojito in hand, perhaps?). For that moment, I bet you weren’t worrying about work or bills, were you?
“It is easy to forget ourselves when we contemplate pictorial and verbal descriptions of places. At home, there are no reminders that those eyes are intimately tied to a body and mind which will travel with you wherever you go.” – Alain de Botton
de Botton describes us as ‘complex creatures’ where observations take place. Observations of, say, the white sandy beaches in those thick, glossy brochures; observations of, say, white sandy beaches which are only a tiny fragment of the ‘multifaceted task of living.’ Whilst thumbing through the brochures, we allow ourselves time to contemplate and imagine being there, without a worry in the world. The reality of actually being there is much different; it is all consuming, and the happiness we imagine we will be feeling whilst there, can only last for a moment before new patterns of anxiety form and our minds start to wander back to the work presentation we have to give when we get back, or whether the neighbour has remembered to feed the cat.
As I’ve mentioned in previous posts, many people seem to travel to ‘get away,’ – to take a break from daily life and to have some time away from worrying. But, as de Botton proposes, as long as the body in which our minds and eyes are confined is with us (which it will inevitably have to be in order for us to travel in the first place!), we are never free from the anxieties that we strive to get away from. Basically, you can’t get away from yourself, so, say hello to the complex creature that is your travel buddy; you.