22/05/2015 8:12 AM IST | Updated 15/07/2016 8:25 AM IST

Why Travel Transforms You

Shenaz Wahid

To travel is to live your story


You become the central character in adventures that you once only read about in books.

You dive into an emerald river, meet a stranger whose words change your life and you aren't the same person who took your first step into a journey, with love and fear mingling, wondering how the world out there was going to greet you, unprepared for its unrestrained embrace. To travel is to tell your story, the one you hear more clearly now. You now know you are different from what you have always been told to be. You aren't at the same place anymore and you can't hear the same voices. The one that you do hear is your own.

To travel is to change the world

When you travel, you realise that reality is subjective. All the ideas you thought as unchangeable reality, change so easily at the next border.

It forces you to choose from every culture the missing pieces of your own soul. From one land to another, the ways of living life change. You can't help but ask then, what is truly important?

When you move across a land, you carry thoughts and ideas of other civilisations and times, of people whose perspectives are vastly different from yours. You become a carrier of new thought.


To travel is to be familiar with the scent of life

It's the fragrance of sunlight as it plays with the earth in the dawn air, the smell of a steaming cup of tea in a little shop in the mountains. It's the scent of a village when smoke rises from the wood. It's the forest at dusk and in the rush of the rivers. When the stars awaken at night, you can smell the dark perfumed sky. Every place has its own characteristic fragrance like no other. A fragrance that drifts in memory. When you travel, the scent of life rushes to meet you.

To travel is to become a part of history

So many great souls were travellers: Prophets, kings, wise men, poets, explorers, scholars and sages alike, they knew that in a journey lies transformation. Wherever they went, they left a trace of who they were. When we travel, we merge our own trace with the eternal trace of humankind and their ceaseless journeying through earth.


Travel is love in movement

Once you know there is more to the world than you previously imagined, you cannot go back. You wonder what it means to be really alive. Travelling sets you free from the things you thought you couldn't live without, having found new things, indispensable to you: dreams and a passionate spirit.

To travel is to be naked

You may wear your clothes, but in truth you travel naked, open to surprise, wind, soil and stranger. When you travel, you are forced to leave everything familiar behind. The only thing you take with you is who you really are.


To travel is to converse with the world

Travellers tell each other stories that they wouldn't share as easily otherwise, possibly because they may never meet again or because the road opens up their heart wide, enticing them to share all that's in it. There must be magic in the dust of the road that shakes off the dust from my heart. Something makes me speak and share my deepest secret with a perfect stranger and the same thing makes them open their lips too. It's a real conversation with real people, about who you are beneath all the layers.Your eyes meet and suddenly you aren't strangers anymore.You are old friends meeting once more upon distant lands.

To travel outside is to travel within

The things you hear on the road are not to be taken lightly. They are powerful. .

You come to know yourself in the voices of those you meet. In fact you find new words pouring out of your own lips too.


To travel is to move your mind by a million dimensions

In a journey you confront something that has never before been a part of your existence: faces you've never previously envisioned, the textures of a land, even the way in which you show your affection. Travelling moves your mind, irreversibly alters your heart and merges you with one unstoppable human race.

To travel is to confront the truth

Everything comes right in front of you. The great beauty and the ugliness, the way the world smiles with its unseen lips and cries with its unseen eyes, its unbounded happiness, its utter despair, its way of hoping and dreaming. No message is filtered and delivered to you by someone, who wishes to impress their thoughts upon yours. You confront the truth yourself. You become aware of your own spirit. To travel is to know what it means to be human.


Travel is alchemy

In that moment where two completely different worlds collide, alchemy takes place.

Ideas of life which were utterly unfamiliar and foreign are discussed over wine and coffee and then those thoughts don't die there. They travel onward. When you travel, you even surprise yourself by dancing upon the streets, climbing mountains and swimming in glacial river streams. You follow your gut and the things you do and see, change the world irrevocably forever because it changes you irrevocably, forever.

You eventually go back to your "real life" in the real world, but you won't ever be the same person going back home anymore.

Because travel transforms you.

Images from around India: by Shenaz Wahid