“Objects of beauty by design are strange, they are different from the everyday; in other words, we need to be catapulted into noticing something we haven’t seen before, and that requires this de-contextualization from the everyday. Thus, travel being an altered state of consciousness”
-Jason Silva, Philosopher and Media Personality
The act of travelling from one place to another is great, but it is not the end of the story. Anyone can move one place to another with the adequate resources. What is marvelous is catapulting yourself into unknown circumstances and revelling in the aesthetic arousal that is ‘the unknown land’. This instinctual arousal, the shock to one’s senses, can be called awe. What can we say is ‘awe’? Seems like a pretty fancy word right? It tempts me to state the term when I feel overwhelmed with feeling.
Is that it?
Well, here’s my best answer. Awe is to be unravelled by the experience at hand. It is to be the small child first entering the world with no pre-conceived notion of what is and what ought to be. It is to be placed into circumstances where our frame of reference is dissolved and we are left dumbfounded by seemingly simple things and events; where we skip a beat in processing it in full. Awe seems to be a state of arrest. A WALL that trips you up on the path ahead. A feeling of wonderment that seizes the mind, body, and soul for seconds or minutes, but without fail.
Have you felt it? Have you been left breathless at the sight of a mountain range? Have you been unable to speak after reaching a new country?
To travel is to induce this intoxicating sensation of awe in everyday life. It does as Jason Silva has eloquently described above and ‘catapults’ us into the circumstances that arrest our attention; those scenarios that offer us little to go on in terms of concepts and schema. It is obtaining the high of new experience, and can even become a lifestyle choice worth having. Whether it be experiencing your first night market in Asia, or casting your initial gaze upon the Rocky Mountains, you are confronted with experience that goes beyond your common place environment and knowledge. And in that, awe becomes more than a here and there experience.
Awe becomes a craving.
A wanderlusted addiction with some of the usual consequences, except, any regret for the endless dollars spent on airfare and the tiresome nights laying awake dreaming of the next great adventure. Just as psychoactive drugs alter consciousness, change perspectives, and elevate physical awareness and sensation, travel will give you the package deal with the additional bonus of a warm heart and a slightly more defined perspective on what the world has to offer you. Travelling is to embark down the rabbit hole and rather than finding demons that seek to betray you, you will find the mechanics for how to improve well-being, keep a healthy sense of child-like wonder, and explore horizons that you never knew existed. It’s only up to you to take the next dose.
The Wandering Photograph