Right. After the bad head cold I had I am back, at least partway, to my usual self and ready to write that profound 😉 reflection on travel and curiosity.
What comes to me after my road trip is the thought that travel and curiosity exist in a strongly reciprocal relationship. That is, they mutually reinforce each other. It is, of course, possible to travel without curiosity. In fact, I must confess, I have often done this on business trips, simply rushing from one plane to another without looking around me. It is also undoubtedly possible to practice curiosity in the context of one’s everyday life, without traveling. But if you want one long, intense, natural opportunity to be curious then travel is a wonderful way to get that, especially if you are on a road trip rather than a business trip.
Even in my diminished physical condition (it’s difficult to do the Five Senses exercise when your ears are ringing and your nose is so stuffed up that you can neither smell nor taste much), I could expand my experience with new impressions by stretching my abilities (I rented a car and drove, something I hardly ever do) and by spending time in a place I’d never been to before and then in a place, my alma mater, I hadn’t been back to in over thirty years.
I found myself looking and noticing and wondering:
- How is this town different from other towns I know?
- How is this town the same as other towns I know?
- Where does this street go?
- What would it be like to live here? What would I like about it? What might I like less?
- What does this person have to say?
- How has my university changed and what does it look and feel like to my niece?
It was easy—natural—to approach the places I visited openly like that, trying to get a feel for them, because I was out of my everyday life. I couldn’t operate on auto-pilot so at a certain level I was forced to look, notice, and figure things out. In addition, I wasn’t under the pressures that are a part of my daily round so I could more easily let go of the desire to control outcomes. Traveling made it easy to be curious, and being curious about what I encountered made me come home enriched and stimulated. A reciprocal relationship.