“But discovering the world requires effort, and a great one at that, which absorbs a person. The majority of people develop the opposite abilities – the ability to look and not see, to listen and not hear [………………..]. We stand in the dark surrounded by light.” Ryszard Kapuściński, Travels with Herodotus.
Curiosity of the world and a desire to discover it. What are they? Why do they demand such a great effort? Why do most of us run away and choose to “stand in the dark”? After all, with every passing year, it is easier to move around the world. Now, it is not thousands but millions participating in tourist pilgrimages around all the wonders of the world recommended in the guidebooks. We do not even have to leave home as virtual world travel is a few clicks of a mouse away in UHD, 3D and a million colours. Is not this whole modern movement of the people, both real and virtual, the best proof of our omnipresent curiosity of the unknown?
Herodotus’s answer, and that of others following in his footsteps, would probably be that all these people may be moving from place to place, but they are not really travelling. For Herodotus, to call our experience of the world travel, we need two things; the first is openness in the form of the capacity to go beyond our prejudices, stereotypes and preferences so as to see “another” world without easy, habitual judgments and valuations. And the other is essential to all travellers – the gift of reflection, or in other words the ability to see through the mirror of the “other”. In discovering the world, we are constantly rediscovering ourselves anew. A meeting with the other is an exceptional opportunity to discover our own selves from another perspective. Sometimes what we see from this perspective is not easy and pleasant to behold. It may disrupt our ordered world and deny us our smug sense of self- confidence. And it may totally not offer the joys of “all inclusive” at yet another exotic destination.
How many of us feel the desire to see themselves through the eyes of someone who is totally different in terms of culture and often material status? Do we really have the courage to travel rather than just consume as we visit the world? For me, following the footsteps of Herodotus is very difficult – I’m always having to struggle with it. The photographs and texts on here are fruit of that struggle.