Essays

Change is Good

One of the most well-known quotes on traveling goes like this:

“The world is a book, and those who do not travel read only a page.”

-Saint Augustine

I agree wholeheartedly with this quote. The phrase ‘in your own world’ is applied far too easily these days, particularly in reference to culture, politics, etc. This is because people are only willing to read the page or pages they are most comfortable with, the ones they know to be safe.

People say they don’t want to travel, purely because they aren’t interested in seeing the world. In the end, this is a lie, a cover up for the truth; They don’t want the world to see them. They don’t want to even touch the shoes of another outside their circle, let alone walk in them. And the truth is this: They are afraid.

They may not fear experiencing another culture on a base level. No, what they fear is what the experience will do to them. They would rather watch the show than be a part of it, because once they become integrated into a different system, change is bound to happen. This change can be potentially beneficial, or potentially disadvantageous. Most of the time it’s a mix of the two.

However, the change in this context could be purely beneficial and still be undesirable. Why? Because it’s still change. You will still go home and be a different person. Really, it’s not the change itself that is not wanted, because if the change is good, then you will be happy it took place. But before it takes place, you have to think, “What will change?”

Humans desire security above all else. Think of the phrases “A steady job” or “happily ever after.” These phrases may inspire thoughts of income, happiness, love, and home, among others. These are all well and good, but at the end of the day, they imply security. They imply stability. And stability doesn’t change, so we can build off what we know and block everything else that may challenge that stability.

And traveling will challenge that stability. It will challenge your moral values, the way you interact with others, the way you see yourself…It will challenge your life, and change you for better or for worse. Because traveling is knowledge. You can read a book on math, and know the principles, but how much faster will you learn by applying them with a physical teacher? You can watch a documentary on hummingbirds, but what will you notice when you pick one up, or watch one flit to the bird feeder outside your window?

What will you get from reading one page of the book, when there are so many more waiting to be understood?

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