For the Love of Travel

“We travel because we need to, because distance and difference are the secret tonic to creativity. When we get home, home is still the same, but something in our minds has changed, and that changes everything.” – Jonah Lehrer

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I believe the most enriching experiences are the ones that create a new lens through which you see the world. When you find the expanses inside yourself—the vast quiet planes, uncluttered, bereft of the bias of fear and normalcy—you find not only better answers, but better questions. A spark of insatiable curiosity that fuels a renewed mind and embraces the belief in obscure possibilities. Travel gives me that.

For me, the beauty of travel is simply the ability to leave all of my assumptions and convictions behind, seeing everything I thought I knew in a different light. It shows me the sights, issues, and cultures that I might ordinarily neglect; but more deeply, it shows me all of the parts of myself that might otherwise grow rusty. Every trip is as much a journey into my personal geography as it is to a specific place.

After a trip, my drawers—and mind—are stuffed with photos, poignant moments, and stories to tell. When I return home, I lie in bed kept up by something more than jet lag, replaying in my mind—over and over—all I have experienced and sift repeatedly through my memories, giving them space to knock against my heart a few times, desperately trying to extract some mysterious meaning from them. It’s the feeling of ineffectually grasping at the quickly fading details and fraying edges of a dream just after you wake.

The conclusion to draw is that I am in love. In love with the person I was in that time, and in that place. In love with the transient, yet emotionally enduring connections I made. In love with a moment in time, one full of nostalgia that I yearn for, but a moment that I cannot return to. So for me, travel itself is a type of love. One that instills in me an acute sense of awareness in which I am open, undimmed by familiarity, waiting to be transformed.

And in these moments, my camera serves as my faithful companion. A crucial form of documentation, a catalog of sorts I use to capture these blissful, fleeting moments and store them as a form of memory that withstands the fading of time. I’m not in it for the simply pretty. I’m in it for the interesting. For the contrast and mess, the counter-intuitive, the strange and imperfect, the unexpected. It’s a love affair with the texture of life itself. There is pain and poverty. There is love and wonder. There is humanity. And there’s beauty in it all.

Joanie Bier