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Personal Essay: the Importance of Travelling

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A perilous journey; the perfect phrase to aptly describe my entire nineteen year old life. As far back as i can recall, I have been running into numerous trials and tribulations that had to be resolved before i was able to progress and proceed further.

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In this essay, I hope to share some of those experiences. Since the time I have been able to think, I have been asking myself about my life and its meaning. The deepest ethical and philosophical question i have pondered upon were about innocence, life and experiences. As Descartes famously said “Cogito Ergo Sum”, which loosely translates as ‘I think therefore I am,’ the ability to think and experience is what constitutes life. There is an innate relationship between innocence and experience. In my childhood days, my innocence led me to believe multiple things only for those illusions to be destroyed by a gain of experience. To qualify and further maybe quantify experience through human life, we have firstly to define it. Unfortunately, the notion of experience is quite difficult to determine.

Arthur Schopenhauer, the great German philosopher said ‘Experience is a constituent of our humanity’. In this sense, there is a existential need for experience. In this essay, I would describe few of my experiences ranging from the frivolity and naivety of my childhood to the optimistic and rebellious teenager of today. In this essay, I would be describing three of the main learnings I have got through my experiences namely- Importance of Childhood in my life; The beauty of what I’ll never know; and the importance of silence. I am what some people may call a gallivanter. I love travelling to different places as i believe they are a source of fun and entertainment. Travel is something that enables me to go inwardly as well as outwardly to places I would never go otherwise. At home, in a familiar surrounding it is easy to assume that one is on top of things.

Out in the world, one is constantly reminded that it is not the case. Personally speaking, I have been able to unshackle myself from the chains of restrainment present psychologically and physically through travel. Travelling is essential because it unsettles people. Ralph Waldo Emerson, the famous American essayist eloquently conveyed this message when he said, “People wish to be settled; only as far as they are unsettled is there any hope for them”. Through travel, I have got an opportunity to learn some exhilarating new ideas and have gotten myself exposed to multiple cultures by experiencing them first hand. This has definitely helped in making me wise and take informed choices.

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A more important lesson I have learnt through travel and the exposure to multiculturalism is to be sensitive and accommodative of other practices and cultures which are very different from mine. Travel also leads to difficult situations where the road ahead seems to be dark. It is in this abyss of darkness when I knew i was lost that I was able to find my true self. I strongly disagree with the phrase that “Ignorance is bliss”. This assumes that the opposite of knowledge is ignorance and as an individual cannot possibly know everything and hence the phrase is justified. The opposite of knowledge need not be ignorance. It can be wonder, mystery or a possibility to open a pandora’s box of opportunities to discover and reinvent oneself.

I wouldn’t be rodomontade in saying that travelling has helped me in discovering myself and at junctures of self doubt, helped in rediscovering myself. I have come to understand that the things i do not know have lifted me up and pushed me forwards much more than the things i know. Therefore, travel has been one of the most important of things in my life and definitely the most blissful of my experiences.

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