The Intrepid Explorer
Get the flock out of here!
There’s a story about a shepherdess in the Southern Alps who had never left her native remote village. She could see the sea from the top of her mountain while keeping her sheep, but she never went close to the sea and she never touched it. She would look at it from the hill with a sort of fear and fascination. The Mediterranean was less than 20 miles away, but she had never been able to leave her sheep long enough for her to walk there.
She is not unique. Instead, she is the norm of the past. This is how most people saw the world until very recently—in quite a sedentary, post-Neolithic way. Not too long ago, the geographical limits of the average human being were only tens of kilometres wide around his or her birthplace.
While I can understand this thought pattern—and a part of me even finds it somewhat endearing—I honestly don’t think I could’ve been like one of those people. If I were the shepherd, the view of the not-so-distant sea would’ve irked me. I would’ve had to venture there and discover, explore and gather new information: new cultures, new lands, new people and new places.
That’s the most wonderful thing about travelling to places beyond ‘our own village’ and comfort zone; it opens our mind to so many new experiences. Whether it’s the open expanse and solitude of ‘God’s country’ in the dunes of Namibia or the hustle and bustle of the hectic streets of New York City, travelling expands the mind and lifts the soul.
2014 seems to have gone by quicker than all the years before it (perhaps 2015 and beyond may feel the same—or go even faster). Here we are at the end of yet another year, Christmas decorations all over the shopping centres and all of us taking stock of the year that was. There might have been trials and tribulations, good times and bad, but at the end of the day it’s vitally important, for the mind and soul, to take some time out.
That’s where travelling comes in: There’s nothing better than dropping the shepherd’s staff, grabbing some provisions and heading off to the sea you might have watched from a distance for so long. The sheep will be just fine when you get back.
To all our loyal readers, have a wonderful festive season. Travel safely, and see you in 2015!
Yours in intrepid exploring,
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