Happiness From a Picture of Traffic Lights

I don’t know why, but I really like this photo.

Actually, I do know why. It’s because just outside of the frame, was our hotel. The first hotel of three on our trip to Hawaii. So this photo reminds me of the first leg of journey. Which is always the best.

The beginning of the trip, when you feel so elated, so happy and hopeful. That feeling must be similar to having just dodged a bullet. It’s the feeling of having pulled it off, a successful escape, with only good things to look forward to.

I read or saw somewhere, can’t remember where* that one reason why people get kicks out of traveling is exactly that: the feeling of having escaped. You’ve broken out of your routine, fulfilled your dream of leaving your job (even if it’s just for a vacation) and that’s euphoric. It’s the modern human’s version of leaving a hunting area far from the home cave just before the big storms begin. Leave while you still can.

The term escapism carries a negative connotation. When I was at the peak of my busy traveling years, moving from Montpellier to Rimini, a stint in Paris, then Crete to Paris, Nice and Paris again, some people at home used to ask me what I was trying to run from. Like traveling the world was negative and I was obviously just trying to avoid thinking of my life’s troubles.

For me, it was never that. It was always positive escapism, so innocent and rosy-eyed. The euphoric kind.

Other travelers will understand.

(*if it was your blog, please tell me and I’ll credit you!)

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40 responses to “Happiness From a Picture of Traffic Lights

  1. Not exactly a traveller, but I understand. And things like that sound like something my own compatriots would say (malcontents!). Speaking of which, the name of the street sounds slightly Finnish. Or is it just me. 😉

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    • Hmm, well, to me Hawaiian sounds and looks very different from Finnish! 🙂 I’ve also heard that Finnish can sound like Spanish! I’ll happily take both though, it feels more exotic that way! Why not! 😉

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  2. The escape from routine and drudgery is what travel is about. Of course, the real art is to permanently escape without the need to travel. I suppose, make a life and living out of being creative. Easier said than done! Some people travel in their minds and that can be very rewarding too.

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    • Well said. This blog is for me a way to travel in my mind when I’m in between travels. And yes, I guess the real escape would be to be free to do what you want, be creative and decide your own fate. Few are that fortunate, but the rest of us, we can always dream…

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  3. Oh, yes, I understand! I think of escapism as all positive, but that’s because I love to escape! I could see how some see it as avoidance, but maybe they just don’t get it. 🙂

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  4. Interesting to think of traveling as escapism. I never fell like I’m escaping! Any trip to me means exploring new places and stepping out of my comfort zone. I do however appreciate being away from all the responsibilities of everyday life while we are on a trip!

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    • I love being surprised when I go abroad. So many places feel pretty similar, globalized, so when I finally go somewhere that still has its local color, those are the best trips 🙂

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    • Good point, I’m glad you said that because that’s definitely one of the things I love about traveling – recreating yourself. It’s even more true when traveling alone. You can be someone else for a while, anyone. Or just anonymous, an observer. It can be liberating.

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  5. I understand this more than I understand anything else about life. I can hear the voices of judgement and disapproval, drowned out by the voice that whispers: “Leave while you still can.” In ancient times that whisper may have been a reminder to search for safe haven, but those of us who hear it today take it as a reminder that life is finite. Do it now. I get very sad when I see tour busses filled with weary elderly people. Ghostly faces peering out of windows at the passing scenery.

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    • Exactly! Though I tend to think it’s rather nice that elderly people get out of the house and do tours. Maybe they were adventurous travelers when they were younger and now tours are just easier! But if those tours are the first time they are traveling and seeing the world then yes, I think that’s sad, too. Because of time lost and all those missed opportunities, but also because of the whole concept of tours… But we all do things our own way! Peace to us all!

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  6. I agree…travelling is never a negative thing for me, either. It’s always a very positive type of escapism. The thought of experiencing life in a new place is an exciting prospect.

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