(The) Emotional Experience of Travel, Art and the Eiffel Tower !

“A dominant impulse on encountering beauty is to wish to hold on to it, to possess it and give it weight in one’s life. There is an urge to say, ‘I was here, I saw this and it mattered to me.”

― Alain de Botton, The Art of Travel








I often wonder how others approach  travel and to what extent they allow themselves to be changed by the experience of Travel. It’s possible of course, to roll out a list of places you have travelled but to what extent if at all did they change you and was the change superficial or deep and permanent?

It seems to me today that many people want to avoid being touched too deeply by life and such mistrust naturally blocks off the flow of deep emotional engagement with all the wonderful things life has to offer. Take art for example, here I am in Paris surrounded by exquisite creations but what is it that captures my imagination and causes me to gasp at the sight of it then go back to my room and cry my eyes out?  Suddenly I understood the absolute genius of Van Gogh and the pain of his struggle with life. But I had to have many different emotional experiences in  my own life in order to reach this state of appreciation.

Art and nature are the two great healers of life, but they can only do their work if we let them.

“What do you do after you’ve  been to a gallery?”
Two ‘jeune hommes serieux’- art students carrying out a survey for their course- asked me when I had finally finished looking at “Starry Night”.
What a great question ! Some artworks are subtle and take time to manifest their presence, others hit you with a sledgehammer. Some works weave themselves into your life and its not until you realise that you’ve been thinking about it for some time, just how powerful its affect has been. Art is designed to change us and for real change to occur it has to involve not just the head but also the heart-all those emotions like fear, disgust, anger, disillusion, wonder, joy and of course love- before the real change in our behaviour occurs.
On seeing the Eiffel tower for the first time I experienced a totally different reaction. The iconic edifice which dominates the Paris skyline, produced two major emotions-awe at just how huge it is in every aspect. Fear emerged soon after at the thought of climbing the structure which I soon realised was an emotional engagement I was never going to makes thanks to my fear of heights. Still, I can appreciate the many faces of the grand structure from the safety of mother earth.

6 thoughts on “

  1. An insightful chapter. I think travel does change you, if you let it in…. I was lucky enough to go to India 4 years ago for work, 95% people were aghast, a female travelling alone to Chennai, but I loved it – all of it, the chaos, the smells, the colours, the animals, the smiles, the people… it was a huge turning point for me, my old boss said “You treat every single person the same, regardless of cast or divide” and I made sure I smiled & thanked everyone. Don’t get me wrong, it was hard, and yes often tears flowed in the first few days, but I learnt to try a different way to ‘get in’, and when I left India, 3 weeks later…I left some of my heart there.
    I imagine Paris will be like that too….scared & excited.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Wow! You understand! Yes it is exactly like that , an emotional roller coaster. Some arrondissements are full of rich tourists and next to them on the street are the Syrian refugees. I cant ignore them and each time I give them a few euros they show me their most precious possession’, a tiny dog. Its as though theyre saying ‘look I have something beautiful too, something which loves me’ I don’t know how you can be moved, undone really, by exquisite works of art and not value every expression of human life. So great that you shared that with me Cherer, youre my kind of woman!

      Liked by 1 person

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