[The Case Against Travel]

One common argument for travel is that it lifts us into an enlightened state, educating us about the world and connecting us to its denizens.

………Travel gets branded as an achievement: see interesting places, have interesting experiences, become interesting people. 

Is that what it really is?

……..So cast your mind, instead, to any friends who are soon to set off on summer adventures. In what condition do you expect to find them when they return? 

[******VISA QUEUE: Kwadwo Ani, acrylic on canvas, 164 x 147 cm, 2002; signed and dated lower left corner. Private collection – purchased from the artist. Never considered expats or even as potential tourists, this cohort is routinely inconvenienced and arbitrarily treated; they are considered migrants, period ******]

They may speak of their travel as though it were transformative, a “once in a lifetime” experience, but will you be able to notice a difference in their behavior, their beliefs, their moral compass?

Will there be any difference at all?

Travel is fun, so it is not mysterious that we like it. 

What is mysterious is why we imbue it with a vast significance, an aura of virtue. 

If a vacation is merely the pursuit of unchanging change, an embrace of nothing, why insist on its meaning?

[****PRAYER TIME, Ablade Glover. In this painting, Glover shows his mastery of abstraction; he has transformed the plane of canvas into a majestic harmony of texture, gradations of color, hints of figuration and yes – perhaps even sound that all capture the deep reverence and piety of our Muslim Brothers and Sistahs. Eid Mubarak! Jummah Mubarek! ******]

One is forced to conclude that maybe it isn’t so easy to do nothing—and this suggests a solution to the puzzle.

Imagine how your life would look if you discovered that you would never again travel.

If you aren’t planning a major life change, the prospect looms, terrifyingly, as “More and more of this, and then I die.” 

Travel splits this expanse of time into the chunk that happens before the trip, and the chunk that happens after it, obscuring from view the certainty of annihilation. 

And it does so in the cleverest possible way: by giving you a foretaste of it. You don’t like to think about the fact that someday you will do nothing and be nobody.

You will only allow yourself to preview this experience when you can disguise it in a narrative about how you are doing many exciting and edifying things: you are experiencing, you are connecting, you are being transformed, and you have the trinkets and photos to prove it.

Socrates said that philosophy is a preparation for death. For everyone else, there’s travel. 


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