Not until we are lost do we begin to understand ourselves.
Henry David Thoreau
We’ve all heard the cliché idiom: travel to find yourself. Find yourself, as if you’re lost. As if the person you’re meant to be lies in a different country, waiting to be picked up, dusted off, and worn out.
Here’s a wild thought: what if we’re already found. What if we’re already who we’re meant to be, but our truth lies under strata of conformity, social acceptance, and mass marketing. And so, we travel not to find ourselves, but to lose ourselves. To shed the masks we’ve worn for so long; to awaken the person we’re meant to be by shattering notions of who we thought we were.
Travel isn’t about posting photos or checking off bucket-list items. Travel is about experience. It’s about facing the sort of fears that pull us apart. It shines a light inside, forcing us to dig around the dark, pulling out pieces we never knew harbored in our murky depths.
Travel is about adventure. It’s adrenaline and fear; dancing on the edge of life while we chisel ourselves out. Travel is about exploring the gray area between who we believed we were and who we really are. To travel is to experiment; to fail and to succeed. And when we do so, we allow ourselves to take pieces of people, places, and moments with us, all the while shedding fragments of who we aren’t.
To travel is to realize the incompletion of ourselves. It’s to unconditionally receive the growing and learning, adapting and shedding. The more we see, the less we know about the world and our place in it. Because the more we experience, the more we realize we are infinite. That the world is infinite. That experience, love, and possibility are all infinite.
There’s no way we will ever grasp the entirety of the meaning of life, but to travel is to come to terms with that. To accept that will never know it all, see it all, or be it all. To understand that we are a link in the chain of something far greater, and far more powerful than we’d ever thought possible. Travel expands us.
If the more we see the less we know, we must travel not to find ourselves, but to lose ourselves.