Friday, April 15, 2005

The Art of Pilgrimage

I've been doing a lot of reading prep for the Britain trip this summer, just because that's the kind of thing I do. So far it's taking two forms: British literature (hence the recent Austen and Dickens in my reading list) and books about travel in general. One of the latter that I finished recently was The Art of Pilgrimage, by Phil Cousineau.

Cousineau has a lot of good thoughts about travel, and how to really make it meaningful and get the most out of it. I like this because I do think that travel is as important for the change and effect it has on me as for the simple enjoyment of seeing new and interesting things.

One chapter I particularly liked was about seeing, and how it is affected by photography. Lots of tourists these days let their cameras do their seeing for them. You have a very different experience of a place if you set your camera aside and sit down to draw or paint the scene yourself. It makes you look at it and consider it and relate to it in a very different way. One quote I liked was:
If there is a trick to soulful travel, it is learning to see for yourself. To do this takes practice and a belief that it matters. The difference between pilgrim and tourist is the intention of attention, the quality of the curiosity.
Intention of attention... I like the mindfulness of that.

1 comment:

Borden said...

If you would like to mix some history into your reading list, I'd suggest one that I just finished: Seven Ages of Britain by Justin Pollard. A readable social history that does particularly well at the transitions between the major phases of British history -- and that highlights a few interesting places to visit. :)