We don’t want to be tourist. We want to be travellers.
Time is relative. It passes – but it passes in different speeds. The Cossacks needed many months to travel from Moscow to Lake Baikal in the 17th century. Today, we only need six hours to travel the same route.
The world has become small, at least to us humans of the western world. But small doesn’t mean clear – on the contrary. Never before has the world been bigger, more enigmatic, more complicated than today; it may not have any blank spaces left or places that haven’t been recorded and possible to reach, even if it’s hard to do so. And we want to “experience” a little bit of this space.
The other thing, the outlandish one – it fills us differently and it stays outlandish if we don’t seize the opportunity to get to know it. Most of the time we prefer to be tourists instead of travellers. But we want to see ourselves as travellers, we want to get away from or daily hassles and get to know the other thing, the outlandish thing. We want to travel because of the travel itself and waive what we already know and appreciate. The trip is the goal.
Today, it is almost unthinkable that someone like Alexander von Humboldt, in the 18th and 19th century, spent his whole life far away from home discovering new things, documenting these and recording them for his descendants. Today, knowledge is just “there”, it is available and accessible for everyone. Experiencing this existence calms us. It is indeed a blessing of this time and brings us nearer to the democratization of knowledge. But it also makes us inert. We can always find what we don’t want to discover ourselves: someone must have been there, and must have documented it in word, picture and sound… Our curiosity is quickly satisfied, even if it’s half-cooked and composed. It is proven, that contextual knowledge of the individual has decreased, but our overall ability to search for facts in the digital cosmos has increased. Though the ability of the individual to link facts with underlying context has dwindled.
To look into something in detail, to be sceptic without cynicism, to make up your own thoughts and still be open for others – all this stays desirable, independent of all simplifications. They are a guaranty for a self-determined life. So we see that there is a difference between one who wants to get to the core of something and one who is satisfied with the fastest answers and offers. Critical distance is as much a part of it, as are courage and curiosity. To let yourself in on something unknown does not harm you. It enlightens you.
Wanting to know, staying curious and discovering on yourself – all these are parts of a process that never ends. Rather it is a continuum. That is why overtime, the one who closes him-/herself to what is new, different, outlandish and unknown, becomes poor. And that is only because of fear or ignorance of what is not considered familiar.
If the Cossacks or Alexander von Humboldt would have been tourists, they would have stayed irrelevant to the history.
But they were travellers, discoverers. They showed us how we could be become richer through openness, curiosity and courage.
Let yourself be led by the pioneering spirit, the unknown and your curiosity.