Dispatch from Seattle: Alain De Botton on a “Travelling Mind-Set”

“… The pleasure we derive from a journey may be dependent more on the mind-set that we travel with than on the destination we travel to

What, then, is a travelling mind-set? Receptivity might be said to be its chief characteristic. Receptive, we approach new places with humility. We carry with us no rigid ideas about what is or is not interesting … We dwell at length on the layout of a menu or the clothes of the presenters on the evening news. We are alive to the layers of history beneath the present and take notes and photographs.

Home, by contrast, finds us more settled in our expectations. We feel assured that we have discovered everything interesting about our neighborhood … We have become habituated and therefore blind to it.”

— Alain de Botton in “On Habit,” The Art of Travel

“Slow down and enjoy life. It’s not only the scenery you miss by going too fast — you also miss the sense of where you are going and why.”

— Eddie Cantor

My trips this past month have given me an opportunity to practice the acts of wandering and noticing. On returning to New York City from Portland and Seattle, I’m challenged to slow down, look carefully, and notice the little things in the neighborhoods and places I inhabit and frequent — and ultimately, to go about everyday life with a mindset more like that of a traveler.

Tim’s Highlights: