What Travel Can Teach Us
The writer of Ecclesiastes warns, living for life’s next high cannot eliminate life’s unsettling questions.
John StonestreetKasey Leander
It’s an interesting time for travel. The price of flights notwithstanding, many are opting for what social media has dubbed “revenge travel”: the chance to get out and make up for time lost during the pandemic.
Which brings up the question: What is travel good for?
A popular answer is that travel is necessary to experience la dolce vita, or “the sweet life.” Writing to the Atlantic, one reader described his year overseas: “I went to Italy burned out from American corporate pressures and returned with better boundaries for work/life and an intentionally slower pace of doing things.”
But travel is no cure for all that ails us. Ralph Waldo Emerson famously called travel “a fool’s paradise,” the mistaken belief that internal restlessness can be escaped by a mere change of scenery. “Our first journeys,” he wrote, “discover to us the indifference of places.”
Travel is a way to connect with people and expand our knowledge of the world. But, as the writer of Ecclesiastes warns, living for life’s next high cannot eliminate life’s unsettling questions, nor can it take us to the deeper Source of life’s passing joys.
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