Saturday, 31 January 2015


I haven't written in here in a long time, partially because I haven't been travelling, although I have been trying to notice things with "travellers' eyes" while living in Kingston.

I came across this link the other day: Henry Wismayer: Has travel become another exercise in narcissism? There's also a response piece in which he tries to defend what he has written. After reading these, I thought they were pretty elementary. In defense of the people he criticizes for saying that once-in-a-lifetime experiences are "awesome", I would just say that a) you're putting those people on the spot - perhaps they're better at articulating their experiences through drawing, poetry, film, photography, writing? b) Perhaps they haven't had time to reflect on their experiences, partially because they're always on the move c) Try asking the same thing about eating an apple, "It was crispy." "It was sweet." Unless we're a specific sort of writer, we don't get asked those same kinds of questions about eating, do we?

The first piece is hypocritical, which just goes to show many peoples' complex relationships towards travel, globalization, development. Yes, I did say all those words in one breath. Basically, he's trying to say that travel is now more about consumption than adventure. Right?

I am aware that I myself am a perpetrator of some of those things and ideals he mentions in his first piece. I believe that when I first travelled abroad, as a young 20-something student who had just worked her way into (relatively) a lot of money for the first time in her life, travel was freedom.

One of the interesting things about my internship right now is that I help facilitate not only pre-departure sessions for students, but re-entry sessions, and I think these are the more challenging sessions. I want students attending these sessions to think and reflect. When I came back from my year abroad, I lost a lot of friends. They either graduated or were in classes that were years ahead of mine. It seemed as if everything had changed, but it had probably never occurred to me that they were jealous of me or angry that I had missed a whole year of their lives. I did ask what they had been up to, but compared to my stories, it seemed as if they had just gone on with their usual lives, which is exactly what happened.

Even the marvelous travel writer Pico Iyer's newest book is about The Art of Keeping Still. In such a mobile world, it takes more and more work to keep still, and yet I believe we need stillness more than ever. I used to say with pride that for the past X amount of years and counting, I have barely lived in one city for more than two years. I don't regret doing that, but it does have to stop. There is a quality to stillness that doesn't come with agitation, and that is depth.

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