How to become a better traveler 2020?
- The famous author wonders how this unique experience of global silence can teach us to see the world with new eyes.
- He got off a cruise ship in January after circling the Antarctic Peninsula for 10 days in a rare state of condescension.
- I once wandered through a colony of giant penguins in Patagonia,
- but nothing prepared me to stand day after day surrounded by irresistible birds that pass by and throw their heads back to howl or glide with super grace in the icy waters.
The deepest reason I was moved was that I sat so much every day
- I had seen glaciers calve in Alaska, but it vanished from the feeling of floating in a zodiac often on a summer morning through a sea of turquoise, aqua, and silver icebergs.
- Even the moment I saw my mother swimming with dolphins in Tahiti 20 years ago was nothing more than the sight of 50 orcas porking under bright light next to our boat long after dinner.
- What had touched me so deeply, I wondered? Of course, there is special clarity in navigating a silent world where there is often no sign of human habitation.
- And almost all of my fellow travelers seemed as liberated as I was, as phone calls on the ship were nearly impossible and the internet was criminally slow.
- Every morning, a four-page news summary told us about a virus in distant Wuhan, but that hardly applied to this uninhabited landscape with its 360-degree horizons. The deepest reason I was moved was that I sat so much every day.
Goals can’t be as rich as what we bring them | better traveler
It’s a relationship that haunts me more and more in 46 years of travel: my ability to move is directly linked to my ability to be calm. This is one of the reasons I reflexively go to St. Patrick’s Cathedral every time I visit Midtown Manhattan to breathe quietly in everything I just saw and prepare for the horns and loud meetings to come.
That’s why so many of us try to sit on a rock in Petra before the sightseeing buses arrive, or stroll through the treeless void of Iceland at 2 a.m. in mid-June, as the sun just hits the rock. the sea begins to sit.
We are most transported when we are the least distracted. And we are the most peaceful – ready to be truly transformed – when we are deep within ourselves. I would much rather chat with one view for 60 minutes than with 60 places for one minute at a time.
When I travel with the Dalai Lama – as I have done all over Japan for the past 10 years – I am convinced that the great responsiveness he brings to every last supermarket and toddler that passes is in part the result of three hours he spent.
he spends the beginning of each day in meditation. Goals cannot be as rich as what we bring to them.
During this new virus season, I spent many happy hours on the tiny sunny terrace outside my apartment in Nara, Japan, with poet laureate Marcel Proust.
I also see him as the patron saint of travelers, precisely because, due to severe asthma, he was limited to spending three years alone in his cork-lined room.
- What made her read the fine print of every crowded evening so intently?
- Long remember young beauties on the beach with such fresh immediacy?
- Record the sight of sleeping loved one with awakened precision?
Solitary confinement this time, I guess. I never forget that Proust reminded us that the purpose of every trip is not new sights, but new eyes.
Once we have them, even ancient monuments will be reborn.
The point of every journey is not new sights, but new eyes | better traveler
- I also think of Emily Dickinson’s supernatural vitality.
- Not leaving home for 26 years made her so alert that she could see the South Pole and the North – and wild nights and skies and carriage rides with death – just by standing near his window.
- With nowhere she made her look wonderful everywhere
I got my first glimpse of the richness and the thrill of sitting on one of my greatest adventures 29 years ago.
while driving three and a half hours from my parents’ house in California to a Catholic hermitage. Upon arrival,
I entered a room which consisted of a single bed, a long desk, a chest of drawers and windows overlooking a private walled garden, and the calm blue sheet of the Pacific Ocean that s ‘extended in all directions.
With no interference – no television, no phone coverage, no internet connection – every ringtone sounded meaningful. I noticed each Steller’s jay like never before as they came out of my room in my family’s house.
Nothing I had seen in Bhutan or Ushuaia carried me so far or so deeply.
I am not a Christian, but I have realized that silence is not denominational.
Three days later, of course, I was back to my ubiquitous life of split-screen multitasking. But these three days of silence opened the door to possibilities, to the point that I have now returned over 90 times, sometimes staying in this hermitage for up to three weeks.
No one has yet mastered the art of seeing the world in depth while walking | better traveler
It also sheds new light on all of my other trips. When I returned to Myanmar four years ago, I went to Shwedagon Pagoda every morning before breakfast:
there was no need to go anywhere because young lovers, school children, nuns, historians of the family
– the whole town
– seemed to walk past me. Now, whenever I come to San Francisco on business.
I try to take a long walk soon after I wake up and not be online for as long as possible.
I’d rather see the world around me than be back in the midst of tweets or messages from my bosses.
I remember the teenager who took a bus from San Diego to Bolivia in 1975.
At that point, I was so excited about the new stamps in my passport and the prospect of telling my friends that I had crossed a pass at 15,000 feet and stayed (accidentally) for three nights in a bad house where I was measured by the number of experiences they had in my days.
It took years of traveling to understand how a single morning in Kyoto.
wide awake in a serene garden could transform me more than any three-week itinerary across Asia.
Many of us are now waiting to emerge from long weeks of forced silence and reflect on what travel might be like in the future.
In my case, my wife and I love to walk around our neighborhood every day and discovered a bamboo forest lined with cherry blossoms,
- just five minutes from the apartment we have lived in for 27 years.
- When I stayed inside I noticed the light, the song of nightingales, even an occasional motorcycle going by like never before.
- I also need to hear from my seldom seen best friend who reports that he is on his way to Antarctica next February.
- How should he prepare? I told him to read Admiral Byrd’s book “Alone” about everything the famous explorer had discovered while alone in a small room near the South Pole for five months.
- I also told him to make the most of his silence beforehand.
- No one has yet mastered the art of seeing the world in depth while walking.
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