They spoke no more of the small news of the Shire far away, nor of the dark shadows and perils that encompassed them, but of the fair things they had seen in the world together, of the Elves, of the stars, of trees, and the gentle fall of the bright year in the woods.
The Fellowship of the Ring, Book II, Chapter I: Many Meetings.
I case you didn’t know, I am a huge Tolkien fan, and am currently rereading the Lord of the Rings for the third or fourth time. On this occasion, the passage above jumped out at me. It really resonated with how I feel about travel and what one of the main reasons I do it is.
I travel to experience beauty.
I used to think the main reason I travelled was to see new things, new ways of life, meet new people and be exposed to new perspectives on the world. Those things do certainly play a part, but it is also very much to find beauty and to reinforce my view that humans are good, despite all the evil going on in the world.
There’s plenty of ugliness around us all the time, be it in a superficial sense like in dilapidated buildings, bad graffiti, pollution, or in a more intellectual sense such as social inequality, war, poverty. I used to seek out the ugliness in the world and try to find the hidden beauty in it.
Of course, I realise that some ugliness in some form (which is without question, subjective anyway) is always going to be part of life. I do not expect from now on that my travels will be all unicorns and rainbows all the time.
But I find myself less and less willing or indeed interested in actively seeking out ugly or average places on my travels, be that in terms of an accommodation option, a town or indeed a whole region. Life is too short for that shit. I want to see beautiful things and places and so have become a lot more fussy about where I go and what kind of place I stay in.
Nowadays, I’m much less willing to pay for average accommodation, and indeed on our current trip, Zab and I have found ourselves paying more for better places to stay, be they hostels, hotels or Airbnb apartments. In fact, it may have become a cause for a slight overspend, but whatever, it’s just money. We can always earn more.
Also, regarding my choices of where to visit, I used to be happy to just turn up in a place and try it out. If it was ugly, boring or otherwise uninteresting to me, I’d move on. Now, I’m less willing to spend the time and effort discovering that when I arrive: I’d rather just not go in the first place.
As a result, I spend a lot more time planning where to go and looking for reasons to go to that particular place. Is there a lot of good vegan food to be found there? Does the city have an interesting (street) art scene? Can you easily visit places of natural beauty nearby?
So is this all a result of having travelled already to enough boring, ugly or simply uninspiring places that I’m becoming fussier? Or is it just because I’m getting older?
Who knows, and indeed who cares? I’m happy with this new style of travel and today is my 30th birthday and this is my blog, so I’ll say whatever the fuck I want.