To open oneself to experience is to enquire into what is arbitrary and what is meaningful. Diverse experience isn't as much about extracting insight as it is training depth-mobility. The voyager’s purpose is to arrive one level above: To transcend any one experience or way of life in favor of paradise a moment away. As he with one tongue cannot triangulate language, so he who has bathed in only one set of circumstances cannot understand what it is that is life.
1 Finding Self Through Curiosity
Wanting to reform the world without discovering one's true self is like trying to cover the world with leather to avoid the pain of walking on stones and thorns.
It is much simpler to wear shoes.
Whilst nothing wrong with sticking with what works, some cannot help to wonder “what if?” and must thus first quench this thirst to know. The curiosity of what Japanese forests smell like?—or what is the view from mount Kilimanjaro?
Pilgrimage’s contribution to self and society comes from the realignment of the latter with the former. Through mapping out the territory before a confident embark. Because to search widely, whilst initially slower compared to deep dive, will pay off in the long term via reassurance; of being on path.
2 Nature Bathing as Societal Detox
I went to the woods because I wished to live deliberately, to front only the essential facts of life, and see if I could not learn what it had to teach, and not, when I came to die, discover that I had not lived.
—Ralp Waldo Emerson
Although naturally good and intelligent, Man's nature hides under layers of conditioning and may thus require to be brought forth by reattunement with nature. All spontaneous travel will awaken natural creativity, but long-distance hikes—through nature in isolation especially—brings forth the Self like few endeavors will. Prolonged travel will teach you how to align self with nature, instead of—as modernity has it—trying to fit it to your demands.
2.1 Rebels Turn, Heroes Return
As he who doesn’t turn away from society is a sheep, so he who doesn’t re-turn is a coward. The hero returns. The point is not to escape, but to bring back clarity. To not leave civilization behind, but to help it revive; remember.
3 The Failed Revival That Is Tourism
In order to understand the world, one has to turn away from it on occasion.
Pilgrimage being internal, tourism—with its complete ignorance of the inner journey—is a weak attempt at bringing it back. Pilgrimage isn't leaving an office in exchange for a five-star hotel. We are looking for Self. The familiar has to be left.
3.1 Divine Drought
Consider the rise of public intellectuals. Their newly acclaimed rock-star level status is an extension of the tourist phenomenon. If tourism is trying to bring back direct experience, then Jordan Peterson and Sam Harris are culture’s recent attempt at bringing back the Big. Both, however, are symptomatic of the same divine drought.
Public thinking has ultimately been unsatisfactory because big questions cannot be outsourced. Big thinking is personal and requires a space in culture that inspires exploring in order to work at scale (a role churches once played). But this is the healing function of nature tripping as a means of temporarily turning away from the uninspired society. The divine will not be found at an all-inclusive resort.
4 The Logification of Religion
Since the divine cannot be institutionalized, in order to fit the box of modernity, religion has been turned into dogma: A dull logos, or moral code, instead of a guide for transcending. Obviously people will not go to church for judgment!
If not earlier, in our last breath I think we shall see, that not when, but how we found our groove is what matters. How I treated my neighbor. What did I share along the way to gold? Notice it is not called a life lived effectively—but a life lived fully. The idiom lives for a reason. So will I feel proud of my integrity? Will I have sacrificed? and fundamentally, had faith in the good? Then I will peacefully surrender. But peace is not exclusive to death, always awaiting he wishing to let go to the will of life, as God does not want robots.
5 Surfing Will
Not doing nor non-doing, balancing will is like friendship. Not achievable through force alone, neither through idleness. Not pushing the Sisyphean boulder uphill, the remaining option is to surf. Academic philosophy turns into nihilism because it disregards—even denies our possession of—this kind of innate ability to flow with creation.
Life is self-developing, self-organizing, and striving towards complexity. One cannot step outside and watch the show from above. Any effort in separation will be in vain. Actors cannot judge their play, fish can’t talk about water. Life can attempt to talk about itself: I wouldn’t be writing this if I didn’t believe there to be value in it. But it will have to be via participation rather than separation. Enjoy the ride.