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Travel – More than just being there

 I am planning a trip to the Pacific northwest with a person who has an aversion to travel.

No, I'm not a masochist. I'm married.

Obviously, this is not the perfect scenario. But nothing about marriage is, so consider it just another manifestation of the enriching but often exasperating imperfection of being in love with someone. Even when you could kill them.

Like a desperate hypochondriac, my husband was ecstatic when he finally found a perfect description of his “ailment.”

In “The Case Against Travel,” Agnes Callard, an associate professor of philosophy at the University of Chicago, validates John's aversion and provides an authoritative voice he can use when trying to explain his contrarian position, given that most people like to travel.

“It turns us into the worst version of ourselves while convincing us that we're at our best,” is the subhead of Callard's diatribe against travel.

How so? Well, from what I gather, the “worst version of ourselves” as travelers is that we come home telling stories about our travels:

“Although people like to talk about their travels, few of us like to listen to them. Such talk resembles academic writing and reports of dreams: forms of communication driven more by the needs of the producer than the consumer.”

Hmm... OK.

The one thing everyone loves about travel is that travelers return somehow changed. But, Callard says, they are hard-pressed to prove it.

“Travelers tell themselves they’ve changed, but you can’t rely on introspection to detect a delusion. 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? 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?”

I don't know about you, but I don't need any third party telling me what my change is. I'm in charge of that, thank you.

Travel is internal awe. Whether you see the change in me is irrelevant. Only I know it. And you can only accept my claim or deny it. Either way, you'll never really know.

I like to think keeping my man guessing is part of the reason he acquiesces to the journey.

Photo: Giant's Causeway, Northern Ireland, in a downpour.


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1 Comment

Well said, Sharon. Ah, but travel -- always wonderful. (Well, mostly!) And yes, there is a change, if nothing more than learning something exciting and new -- with so much more beyond that. Good luck with John! All shall be well, you masochist, you! (And as for me, I love hearing other people's traveling stories! So tell me yours someday.)

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