Bunny in Yeh Jawaani Hai Deewani said, “Main udna chahta hoon, daudna chahta hoon, girna bhi chahta hoon, bus rukna nahi chahta” and my world (and whatsapp status) was never the same again. Whether it’s Arjun’s immersive scuba diving experience ending in a teary-eyed Hrithik Roshan in Zindagi Na Milegi Dobara or Julia Robert’s pizza-eating, ashram hopping character in Eat Pray Love— we’ve been shown time and again that leaving all your worldly problems behind and taking a trip to a land far far away is the ultimate way to ~find yourself~. Backpack through Europe, climb a mountain, live in a monastery, run with the bulls and voila, life feels all figured out now.
Travelling To Find Meaning
I once took to the mountains to combat my quarter-life crisis hoping the stillness of the ranges would mirror within me. It was seven long days of yoga, meditation, eating clean, meeting new people and soul searching. The novelty of it all was exciting, refreshing and by the end of it…I was at peace. Feeling like the protagonist of a movie who had just discovered the meaning of life, I embarked on my journey back home only to be caught up in the worst traffic jam in the history of traffic jams. Know what happed to my newfound calmness? It evaporated into thin air. Meaning of life? More like murder on my mind. What I realised as I sat in my car wanting to scream my lungs out in frustration is that the peace I felt in the mountains wasn’t mine, it belonged to the mountains, to the environment I was in. I was merely just borrowing it for a few days.
Wherever You Go, There You Are
Don’t get me wrong, travel is a great way to get out of your comfort zone, discover new aspects about yourself, learn lessons and really expand your horizons. Who knew you could complete a 30-mile hike in just a day? Or talk your way into getting backstage at a Justin Bieber concert? But the idea that the meaning of life and the solution to all your problems lies in some obscure valley that you need to rappel down to find or the belief that whenever you feel lost, you’ll magically find your way on the other side of the departure gate, is flawed, because finding yourself isn’t an outward journey. Your problems, your thoughts will follow you no matter how far you try to take yourself from them because they live in your mind. Travelling to the end of the earth may get you away from your mundane routine but it can’t help you escape yourself. Finding yourself isn’t a two-week journey to an ashram in an unknown land, it’s a lifelong one which will ultimately lead you back home.
Travel can lead to self-discovery but the unrealistic pressure we put on a trip to change our lives is unnecessary. Travel to have new experiences, try new things, explore new cultures, discover all kinds of people, see the good, bad and ugly of the planet we inhabit. And if you feel drawn to staying home while everyone is on a plane, bus or train, that’s okay too. The treasure doesn’t have to be halfway across the world, it could be buried right here in your backyard.
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