Pico Iyer: Why we Travel. And: Where is Home?


Vienna, July 2013. Summer in the city. One recurring question all over the place: “So, where are you going this summer?”. Been there, answered that. But what if we alter the question just a little bit: “Why are you going somewhere this summer?” Some of us are looking for a seaside breeze and sandy beaches, some of us wish to lay eyes on several must-see sights in the world, and some of us claim that while they’re on the road, they’re finding themselves.

For sure, there is one thing that each of us can gain and take back home from travelling (as long as we accept it): A new perspective, a fresh outlook on things we have taken for granted for way too long. Some of the most profound – and beautiful –  truths about travelling have been put down in words by Pico Iyer in his timeless article “Why we travel”. (Disclaimer: If you’re not entitled to travel anywhere this summer, reading the article can cause severe jealousy and a strong desire to jump on the next train to go far, far away.)

We travel in order to lose ourselves and, next, to find ourselves. We travel because it is the easiest yet most rewarding way to first reverse and then get rid of our notion of time. We travel because it exposes us to the child-like perception of a world where we don’t understand most of what’s going on around us. We travel in order to transform abstract concepts of places into real impressions and experiences. And all that has been summarized by Marcel Proust: “The voyage of discovery is not in seeking new landscapes but in having new eyes.

Movement: A fantastic privilege

Now, in a brand-new TED-talk, that same Pico Iyer asks a question that is just as compact and complex – and then again, probably represents the other side of the same medal: “Where is home?”, with some brilliant reflections on how the concept of home is much rather a work in progress than a geographical spot or a physical building.

Moving places, living in different cultures and countries and travelling have a lot in common. It’s always controversial. Usually, it is hard work. It often feels like a succession of problems to solve, a quest from one level to an even more complicated one – and that’s what makes it such an enormous source of fulfillment and satisfaction in the end.

Everyone who has been there knows: While you’re travelling, it’s much more important to focus on where you’re going than where you come from. And the longer you think about it, the more you realize that this is not only true for travelling.

Header Image(s) from Pixabay & Gratisography

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