counterbalancing the evils

Me and the family just got back from a week in Hawaii. It’s the longest trip we’ve taken together, distance-wise. And it is nice to get away.

It’s also nice to come home. Settling in at home again, I picked up my (audio) book of Darwin’s Voyage of the Beagle, since I’ve been nibbling away at it all year. I discovered that Charles had come to end of his voyage, and he was ready to give his readers his opinion on traveling.

He is a great observer, after all. The whole book is filled with his close observations of what he sees. The meta-significance of his travelers would not escape his analysis. In Victorian style, he gives his advice on travel:

“No doubt it is a high satisfaction to behold various countries and the many races of mankind, but the pleasures gained at the time do not counterbalance the evils.”

It’s not for everyone. And he didn’t even have to deal with Jetlag! I’m not going to be myself for a while. Except I did really enjoy seeing new things, and stepping outside my usual life. I escaped to the Green World and came back transformed.

Lots of people talk about their summer vacations, and not many of them are able to adequately express their changed perspective. I am grateful to my serendipitous reading of Darwin to save me from trying. After all, I’m still worn out from all that relaxing and I’m trying to merge back into the high-speed freeway of my life

My essay this week will stand on the shoulders of another.

His final word about traveling, is that it “ought to teach him [the traveller] distrust, but at the same time he will discover how many truly kind-hearted people there are, with whom he never before had, or ever again will have any further communication, who yet are ready to offer him the most disinterested assistance.”

In addition to seeing new things and understanding this world we live in, we also get to learn that the world is full of really nice people. When we get vulnerable to others, it seems to allow others–from all over–to step up and be kind.

For a man who was about to change humanity’s perception of their place in the universe, he began with a great appreciation for people’s good nature.

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