Get Lost in Traveling
”A good traveler has no fixed plans and is not intent on arriving.” – Lao Tzu
There is little advice which stands as strong more than two-thousand years after first being given, but these words constitute a fine example of just that. Because really, truly, honestly; what’s the damn point of traveling? I bet you can provide me with hundreds of answers and they would probably all be ‘sorta’ right. Experiencing new cultures gives perspective on your own. Being more open to the little things such as local food and entertainment brings pleasure. Meeting new people makes you a more contrasted one. Getting out of the famous bubble allows you new opportunities of self-discovery. The list could go on and on.
But I would argue that there is one thing about traveling which is important above all else, and Lao Tzu sums it up as poetically as perfectly. Traveling isn’t, and should never be intended to be, an act which has a goal. A goal, an ambition, squanders it. I’m not talking about physical destinations; there’s nothing wrong with wanting to go to the Philippines, Mallorca or Barcelona. But there’s a fault in expecting something out of your travels – be that knowledge, wisdom, confidence, or whatever. Surely you may catch these on the way. They’re inevitably a side-product of it all, but acquiring them is not the point.
I’ll repeat: ”A good traveler has no fixed plans and is not intent on arriving.” When you hit the road, wherever you go for however long, you should be as blank as possible. That’s the one main thing I discovered backpacking on my own across Europe; traveling is not about finding yourself, it’s about losing yourself. As days and locations passed by, I experienced an increasing feeling of being lost. It wasn’t the kind of lost a kid feels when he loses sight of his mother in the middle of a shopping mall. I felt more like a renaissance explorer, setting sail onto the unknown horizon, not having the slightest idea of what I might come across; if anything at all.
The use of being lost is the possibilities it opens up. Christopher Columbus found America by becoming lost. A somewhat fixed mind might be useful once you’ve found your passion in life, once you know what you want to pursue ruthlessly and efficiently. But do you really have that one thing? Do you really know anything about meaning? I surely don’t. I thought I did, but that was before I encountered the beauty of being lost. That the modern westerner will make everything into an ambition – from careers to child-raising to getting in shape to collecting money to relationships – isn’t a fact under scrutiny. Traveling allows you to step aside from the blind pursuit that has become a movement, to once again recognize that accomplishment isn’t the goal itself, as it so often seems to be. Travel, and care no more for what you came to see. Instead, see what you see.
– G. Daun