Show/Hide Navigation
5555698695_5c7936963b_o

My life really got going the day I finished formal education.

 

“And this I believe: that the free, exploring mind of the individual human is the most valuable thing in the world.” – John Steinbeck

My life really got going the day I finished formal education. I began enjoying learning at about the same time, when I began wandering the world. Knowledge became gold dust. No longer was I learning stuff merely to regurgitate it in hot exam halls. I do appreciate the benefits of the little bits of paper I earned, but school on the road is different. Geography, culture, history, politics, religion: the way of the world begins to fit together. And the more I learn the more I learn how little I know.

Travel far from home and even mundane, ordinary events become out of the ordinary and fascinating. Knowledge and exciting fresh perspectives are thrown at me all the time. This doesn’t happen when life’s normal routine is ticking over. But I do have to caution myself to travel slowly. If I rush my journeys, one eye on the clock, eager only to tick off miles, countries or sights, then I’ll accumulate lists, but I won’t learn much. Truman Capote would dismiss it out of hand: “that’s not travelling, that’s moving.”

But backpackers and other holiday makers will learn at least as much about India as I will on my walk. And I hadn’t even particularly cared whether I did this walk in India or any other place on the planet. So I am not really doing this to learn specifically about India. What I want to learn from this experience, spending time amongst lives very different to mine, is about myself and the direction of my life. The slowness of a walk is a good chance to reflect on the past and contemplate the future, two things I never get round to doing at home. I am yet to find a better recipe for really learning about myself than a physically difficult, uncomfortable adventure thousands of miles from home.

This is an extract from my book There Are Other Rivers. I’ll post the next chapter here at the same time tomorrow evening. 

Read Comments

You might also like

Spielberg A few years ago I used to watch a lot of films, particularly documentaries, and jot down notes for my blog (like Jiro, Sugarman, Man on Wire, and Anvil ). The death of Lovefilm led to me stopping, unfortunately. So […]...
The Proust Questionnaire I enjoy writing blog posts where questions force me to think hard and be honest (like this interview and these 20 questions worth answering honestly.) The Proust Questionnaire has its origins in a parlour game popularized (though not devised) by Marcel […]...
Committing to Providence, Creating Your Life  OK, so it’s a bit weird to post a blog post about yourself, especially one filled with so many kind things said about me. But if we leave that aside, I think this is a really interesting article about allowing […]...
 

Comments

  1. As I get older, and the days of ‘having’ to learn every day recede into the past, I’ve realised that I really miss learning new things. Perhaps I should travel more!

    Great work Alastair – and thanks for visiting my blog 🙂

    Reply

 
 

Post a Comment

HTML tags you can use: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>

 
 
 
© Copyright 2012 Alastair Humphreys. All rights reserved. Site design by JSummerton