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It’s not about the Eiffel Tower

By September 3, 2022No Comments

My take on travel

I’ve traveled to a bunch of places — but interestingly, when I look back on them, I don’t remember all that much. I can’t recollect most of the “things” I saw – the beautiful nature, the wonderous creations of mankind – they’re all somewhat lost in my subconscious.

A great example of this is the Eiffel Tower. When I went to Paris, I was excited to see it. And then I saw it. Then the next day, I climbed up to the top. And then I kept seeing it from time to time as I traveled around the city. But the impression it had made on me at first sight was all I really needed. Afterward, it became boring. It might not have been there at all. When I think of my time in Paris, I don’t really think of the Tower.

I guess some things are meant to be experienced and appreciated for just a brief moment. After that, they dissolve. Ichi-go, ichi-e.

Yes they’re nice to look at, but traveling for “sights” is really overrated if you think about it. What I actually remember are the situations I was in, the people I met who left an imprint on me, and the moments I shared — and how they challenged and shaped me. You don’t cherish the places, but the faces. And the stories.

Or, as Proust said: the joy of discovery lies not in seeking new landscapes, but in seeing with fresh eyes.

Perhaps all we really seek is a journey to know more about ourselves. The self is an ever-evolving ocean, that we can continue to explore over a lifetime and still have much to see. Travel, friends, lovers, art – they’re all simply a medium, a catalyst, a tool for self-discovery and self-expression.

Here’s another thing I learned about travel, and this was written by a Frenchman I do not remember.

Travel teaches you to hope again. How? Because each day that you wake up and plan your next move, your next destination, your next experience – you are practicing having faith that things will be different tomorrow. Maybe hope and faith, like everything else, are also matters of practice. Hope is a muscle.

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