De Botton’s Travels
Alain De Botton is clearly a man who enjoys traveling based on the discussion he offers in his essay. He distinguishes between having a traveling mindset and a habituated mind. This is in light of the experiences he had as a traveler and of the perceptions that he formed during his travels. He recognized that people could enjoy being travelers even in their localities. They did not have to travel abroad to distant lands to enjoy the traveling experience. They could change their perspectives and mindsets concerning their localities and travel. This realization formed the basis of his essay. He identified the importance of distinguishing between a traveling and a habituated mindset, the benefits of traveling alone, and the general advantages of adopting a traveling mindset.
De Botton emphasizes the importance of perspective during traveling. He recognizes the importance and need of traveling alone. He states, “It seemed an advantage to be traveling alone (64).” He recognizes that people can derive some benefits during sole travels. This highlights the fact that there is a clear distinction between traveling alone and having company during ones travels. Many people tend to miss the point of traveling when they insist on having company on their journeys. They do not consider the benefits they could derive from their travels if they decided to travel alone. He continues to note, “Our responses to the world are crucially moulded by whom we are with, we temper our curiosity to fit in with the expectations of others (64).” This is an important consideration when traveling. People have a habit of leaning towards the perspective of others. They want other people to maintain the perception they already have of them. Therefore, they will tend to act differently around people. Because of this, they will have missed the whole point of enjoying travel, as they will be keener on maintaining impressions. They will be afraid to think because they are worried of what their companion will think about their thoughts. They cannot discuss their observations more openly because they fear that their companion will think lowly of them, or that they will change their perspective of them, if they know their thoughts. People limit their thinking and their expectations when they have company. They lack the courage needed to enjoy a journey. Those who insist on having company with them when they travel are afraid of what they can discover when alone. They are afraid to think freely and to form independent conclusions. They fail to engage the “traveling mindset “and this makes them miss the point of traveling.
A “traveling mindset” is an engaging process that requires a person to use all his faculties. Such a mindset enables people to think and feel things that they never imagined before they started traveling. They start recognizing things that seemed more obvious to them before their travel. De Bottton observes, “The neighboourhood did not just acquire people and defined buildings, it also began to collect ideas. I reflected on the new wealth that was spreading into the areas (64).” He was able to recognize things that he had not recognized before. His traveling made him realize the opportunities he had always missed before when he was too busy. Nothing had changed in his neighborhood, other than his mindset, yet he saw new opportunities. A ‘travelling mindset” does more than open a person to the opportunities they have. It informs and makes people reflect on themselves, their surroundings, and on other people. It enables the traveler to ponder and think more on why people choose to do the things they do. De Botton observes, …”they complained of how inefficient others were, but never reflected on what they might have been doing to increase that inefficiency…I thought of the similarities of complaints-always selfishness, always blindness…(64). He was able to apply a critical look to his observations. This made him recognize the faults and shortsighted nature of others perspectives. De Botton came to a point when he realized that people tend to see the weaknesses and faults in others, yet they fail to recognize their own limitations. They are willing to blame others for the mistakes committed yet they do not consider what they might have done to contribute to the present situation. De Botton could not have realized this had he not taken the time to travel alone. Traveling in his neighborhood enabled him to realize that other people were present. He was able to focus on their discussions and reflect on them.
Traveling can be
fun and engaging process. It does not have to be planned and expensive, and
neither does it have to involve long distances. A person can travel around his
house or his neighborhood. To enjoy all the benefits of travel, one has to change
his mindset and perspective concerning traveling. He has to have an open mind
that will enable him to recognize all that is around him. Traveling enables one
to be more observant concerning his environment. A person is able to reflect on
life, his environment, and his observations of other people. He is able to form
a critical analysis of others and himself. Traveling alone is especially
important because of the freedom it offers. A traveler can think and form
independent opinion on all his observations.
De Botton, Alain. On Habit. New York: Vintage, 2008. Internet resource