Not all trips are going to be life-changing, and that’s okay
We have seen one too many movies about travelling, and it has always made us hope for a life-changing trip of our own. After all, who wouldn't like to experience what the trio of Zindagi Na Milegi Dobara had experienced, or find a new lease on life the way Liz from Eat, Pray, Love had done? Travel, in that way, signifies hope for change, healing, and rejuvenation.
Isn't that why trips seem almost indispensable after a rough semester? Or when work is being too hard on us? Or even when we find ourselves gradually numbing to all the discordance around us?
We hope that going outside of our comfort zones, with people we like, will change things for us. It will remind us of things that actually matter, like nature, friendship, spirituality, and everything in between. However, things don't pan out the way we hope sometimes. Sometimes, the trips we hope will revitalise our deadened spirits end up being kind of mediocre.
This creates a predicament. Did we not put all our existential burdens on the shoulders of this one trip to fix? If we just come out of it feeling just as wilted as before, what was even the point of it all?
That is where the problem lies. We consider vacations to be extraordinary, where reality is suspended for the time being. It is a blank state in our life's trajectory where we could be at peace, where our problems wash away amongst nature.
Trips, just like any human activity, depend on several prerequisites to succeed. It is not something that will always deliver the best results whenever we want it. Travelling is unpredictable. Sometimes, the quality of the trip does not depend on the journey or the desired destination, it is dependent upon everything else: bad weather, disagreeable people, sudden injuries, and a myriad of other factors. Not to mention our overflowing expectations, inspired by our harrowing need for reprieve and adventure, which realistically have very little chance of being fulfilled, can create issues as well.
Then again, are mediocre trips really that undesirable?
If we try to look at travelling from a truly utilitarian point of view, perhaps travel that does not actively make our life richer is nonsensical. However, travelling can just be an act in and of itself that we don't assign so much meaning to. It can consist of simply packing our bags and setting out. Not because it will bring us peace, or that it will heal us from our emotional wounds, or even that it will bring us closer to our travel companions. After all, trips don't fix our life. We do it ourselves. The best it can do is give us an opportunity for a fresher outlook, untainted by everything else in our life.
Not to refute Francis Whitman, who desperately wanted to have a spiritual journey with his brothers at the start of The Darjeeling Limited, but journeys cannot inherently be spiritual or any other meanings we assign to it. It is all circumstantial, and we can rarely ever force it. All we can do is enjoy it when and if it happens.
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