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  • What's the point of travel?

  • It's to help make us into better people.

  • It's a sort of therapy.

  • Without anything mystical being meant by this, all of us are, in one way or another, on what could be termed "an inner journey".

  • That is, we're trying to develop in particular ways.

  • In a nutshell, the point of travel is to go to places that can help us in our inner evolution.

  • The outer journey should assist us with the inner one.

  • Every location in the world contains qualities that can support some kind of beneficial change inside a person.

  • Take these 200 million year old stones in America's Utah Desert.

  • It's a place.

  • But looked at psychologically, it's also an inner destination, a place with perspective, free of preoccupation with the petty and the small-minded.

  • Somewhere imbued with calm and resilience.

  • Religions used to take travel much more seriously than we do now.

  • For them, it was a therapeutic activity.

  • In the Middle Ages, when there was something wrong with you, you were meant to head out for a pilgrimage, to commune with relics of a saint or a member of the holy family.

  • If you had toothache, you'd go to Rome, to the Basilica of San Lorenzo and touch the arm bones of Saint Apollonia, the patron saint of teeth.

  • If you were unhappily married, you might go to Umbria to touch the shrine of Saint Rita of Cascia, patron saint of marital problems.

  • Or, if you were worried about lightning, you were sent to Badnstereifel in Germany to touch the skull of Saint Donatus, believed to offer help against fires and explosions.

  • We no longer believe in the divine power of journeys.

  • But certain parts of the world still have a power to change and mend the wounded parts of us.

  • In an ideal world, travel agencies would be manned by a new kind of psychotherapist.

  • They'd take care not just of the flights and the hotels, they'd start by finding out what was wrong with us and how we might want to change.

  • The anxious might be sent to see the majestic, immemorial waves crashing into the cliffs on the west coast of Ireland.

  • People a bit too concerned with being admired and famous might be sent to contemplate the ruins of Detroit.

  • Someone out of touch with their body might be recommended a trip to Porto Seguro in Bahia in Brazil.

  • Nowadays, too often, we head off without fully knowing what's wrong with us.

  • Or precisely understanding how our chosen destination is meant to help us.

  • We should become more conscious travelers on a well articulated search for qualities that places possess, like calm or perspective, sensuality or rigor.

  • We should follow old-fashioned pilgrims in striving to evolve our characters according to the suggestions offered up by the places we've been to.

  • We need to relearn how to be ambitious about travel, seeing it as a way of helping us to grow into better versions of ourselves.

What's the point of travel?

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