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Why We Travel #3: To Appreciate Art and Culture

Europe

Part 3 of 5, this clip celebrates how travel can be our teacher and the road our school as we better appreciate art and culture.

Complete Video Script

My journals capture how travel was becoming my teacher, and the road was my school.

Journal entry: August 7, 1983, Hexham. We spent an exciting hour climbing along Hadrian's Wall, built by the Romans 2,000 years ago as the northernmost border of their vast empire… …August 14, Santorini. It was a small boat. I felt quite safe, but said several prayers nevertheless… …I was inspired by a a 74-year-old man, on the piazza. He had more enthusiasm for life and respect for the world than… …I thought that idealism matures into realism as you wander through your 20s — but I found I've made a surprising turn…

Each chapter of the human story has been interpreted by the genius of artists illustrating our story, expressing it more deeply than mere words [can]. From the primitive beauty of pigment on rock to the canvas of a master, familiar stories told and retold, one age speaking to the next — medieval, Renaissance, modern.

Art heralds our progress — the leap from medieval to modern; humanism — showing the human body as beautiful, the human spirit as powerful, confident, a worthy child of God; and humankind — you and me rather than the divine — as the shaper of destinies. Art captures sorrow — the heartbreak of tragedy, the true cost of war; it gives voice to tears. Art captures triumph — the statue that faced the darkness and declared, "I can do this — we can do this"; the people who demanded freedom for all. It speaks truth to power. Art proclaims faith — frescoes painted as a form of prayer, a crucifix painted as the artist wept. And art proclaims joy — timeless joys: the love of life, the love of love.

Music is art — it speaks to our soul. When we sing, we pray double. And from the street to the pubs — to concert halls, to cathedrals — music pulls out all the stops. Dance is art — art in motion. It speaks to the heart. It keeps tradition alive. It ignites our passions. And architecture is art as well — ornate palaces stoking royal egos, grand entries, and gardens fit for a king. Fortresses of faith built by people knowing they'd never see them finished, arches holding sacred stories carved in stone, spires reaching for the heavens.

Travelers learn that art and history mix and meld into culture. We learn to value the importance of culture. Like cultural chameleons, we blend in. We join in — relishing the differences, enjoying the similarities. And everyone celebrates the town square: der Platz, la plaza, la piazza. It's on the road that we learn that every culture has a soul. It's the combination of the art, the history, and the people that creates that soul. This is why we travel — we travel to learn, to touch that soul.