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Why We Travel #4: Like Pilgrims, to Learn and Grow

Europe

Part 4 of 5, this clip celebrates how on the road, like pilgrims, we can seek meaning, and how leaving home, we can learn more about ourselves.

Complete Video Script

On the road, like pilgrims, we can become seekers. Even in this age of unprecedented abundance, many of us hunger for something more — for meaning. By leaving home we learn more about home, more about ourselves. We pause, reflect, and hope to grow.

Throughout the ages, people have looked beyond the physical world to get close to God, or some heavenly creator; to ask the eternal questions: Where did we come from? Why are we here? Where will we go? It's always been a mystery. Fertility, abundance, the cycle of life, the promise of something after we die.

We sing. We perform rituals. We celebrate. We sit with someone of a different faith and accept their love. We go to war, often mixing up love and fear — pawns of the powerful, killing often in the name of God. We struggle to understand. We trust, or at least we hope, someone up there is listening.

Whether religious or not, travelers can learn from the holy books of the great monotheistic faiths, each the story of refugees and nomads, of pilgrims and travelers. In the Torah, the people of Israel wandered in the wilderness. In the Bible, Jesus' disciples left home and set out to share their good news. In the Quran, Mohammed said, "Don't tell me how educated you are…tell me how much you've traveled." These holy scriptures are the stories of travelers — lessons from those for whom the road was church, synagogue, or mosque — people who traveled to find something bigger. Pilgrims trek today — some to get close to God, others to better understand themselves.

My journals have helped me reflect on how being small is actually being big; how being alone is actually being connected.

Journal entry: June 30, 1980, the Schilthorn. I hiked out, only a little afraid, past the top of a snowfield and onto the tip of a nearby peak, where I felt very close to God.… …Needing some alone time, I snuck out to a remote spot beyond the temple. And, among broken Roman columns, just got windblown in lovely salt.… …along the beach I strolled, and then sat on a stone throne. A bit cold, loving the silence, I thought, "Nobody knows where I am."

Traveling makes us appreciate — appreciate what we have rather than what we don't have. Savoring the luxury of a simple meal, embracing solitude, valuing each summit earned. Religious or not, we count our blessings — blessings of plenty, of stability and community, of family bonds, and deep friendships.

Why do I see humanity as one? Because I've traveled. Why am I curious? In spite of my privilege, why do I care? Because I've traveled. Why am I grateful, and why do I want to contribute? Because I've traveled. This is why we travel, and why we keep traveling. Through traveling, we find meaning.