Going for a trip on vacation is difficult these days. I live in Europe, and at the time of writing it is possible to travel, albeit with some restrictions. However, it’s pretty clear that it will not be your usual vacation experience.
So, what to do? Well, isn’t this the perfect time to think about travel philosophically? Why do we travel at all? What is travelling all about? I agree with the author of the recently published book “The Meaning of Travel”, philosopher Emily Thomas, that going on a journey means exploring the unknown. Willingly searching for and discovering ‘otherness’. And expanding yourself by doing so. Because anyone who has been on a real exploratory journey – big or small, actual or through a book or a movie – knows that you don’t come out the same person after such experience. It’s like when you learn something new and you cannot ‘unknow’ it afterwards.
And what can be more curious and fascinatingly contradicting than going on a journey to find the unknown at your own home, in the environment you think you know best? Exploring your own home city, country? Is it really true that we know all there is about our homes? Or have simply gotten so used to it all that we don’t even think about exploring our homes with same interest and focus as we would a foreign place?
That’s what I will be trying out these couple of weeks – endeavouring to find the unknown in the familiar. Let’s see how it goes and what conclusions I will draw in the end. You will read about it later on. For now, here is an inspiring quote about books, that wellspring of exploration that never runs dry. This quote is from an exhibition I attended today in my home city Riga where I am travelling these days (at the Latvian National Library, an exhibition about the story of books). I love how it ends with a question to its readers: