why we travel

“Journeys are the midwives of thought“ says Alain de Botton in his book “The Art of travel”. A creative metaphor that journeys and thoughts are strongly connected. If you read last weeks post, you’ll know that most people find it extremely difficult to live in the moment. Learning to do this is a fine art that requires a lot of practice - think of meditation, for example. When you travel, only experiences such as arriving at the summit after an arduous hike, turning around and having the breathtaking view of a landscape in front of you, come close to this feeling. For a short moment, you don't think about the future or the past - just the very moment. This feeling is highly addictive and, looking back, perhaps one of the reasons why wanderlust grips us again and again.

In addition to remembering these uniquely intense feelings, we humans are also pretty forgetful. After a trip, we mostly remember the exciting encounters, beautiful places and funny moments - the times when we weren't feeling so well, or when we had less positive experiences, we forget pretty quickly.

The positive remains, the negative fades away, so it's pretty natural to want to keep embarking on new journeys to collect more positive memories while forgetting the negative ones. In retrospect, it is precisely these moments that have brought you forward personally.

Alain de Botton says that he sometimes wishes to travel to new places like the explorers did a few hundred years ago - completely unprejudiced and without expectations that one might be disappointed. He speaks of a "traveling mindset": "Receptivity might be said to be its chief characteristic. We approach new places with humility. We carry with us no rigid ideas about what is interesting.

I find sailing does precisely this for me. Not only the destinations but the very fact that the ocean is constantly changing and providing this “summit feeling” every time we cast off.

Let me know what you think.