Do We Search For Meaning When we Travel?
“A wise man once said that all human activity is a form of play. And the highest form of play is the search for Truth, Beauty and Love. What more is needed? Should there be a ‘meaning’ as well, that will be a bonus?
If we waste time looking for life’s meaning, we may have no time to live — or to play.”
This quote is from science fiction writer Arthur C. Clarke, and I think it ties into travel nicely. Because is travel not, at its core, the search for truth, beauty, and love? Whether that’s in the people we meet, the landscapes we wander through, or the discoveries we make about ourselves.
If we look at it this way, and in relation to this quote, travel is one of the highest forms of human activity and completely, absolutely, one hundred percent necessary in life.
What is Meaning?
It’s an interesting question that Clarke poses; should there be meaning? If we are constantly looking for the why or the how, then do we overlook the simple values of truth, beauty, and love? He claims that we can get caught up in searching for the meaning of things, which makes us lose sight of what we really need – to live and to play.
Whilst travel does provide us with understanding – perhaps not as deep as the meaning of life – it is also the epitome of play in the wise man’s eyes. Think about it. How much more often do you appreciate the beauty around you when you’re abroad than when you’re at home? How much more often do you explore and discover when travelling? How much more often do you see and feel the love in a place that you don’t know as well as home? I’m guessing the answer to all of these is much, much more often.
Because travel exposes our senses to the elements; every feeling we feel, every smell we smell, every conversation we have, is amplified because, most likely, we are somewhere just outside of our comfort zone which makes our body and mind tune into every microscopic detail. All our experiences are projected twofold because we are discovering new things; new forms of beauty, new forms of love, and new forms of truth.
Does this make meaning an unnecessary extra? A throwaway add-on? I don’t think so. Meaning is important for us to decipher our place in the world, and therefore the place of other people who we meet on our travels. But maybe we look for meaning too much. Maybe, sometimes, we should just sit back and enjoy the beauty around us. After all, it will still exist regardless of whether we label it with meaning.
Or, perhaps these are the tools we use to find meaning.
Do you try to find meaning in the places that you visit? How do you do that?