Thursday, October 6, 2011

Bookish event : An Evening with Paul Theroux


On Monday, September 26, I attended "An Evening with Paul Theroux," an event presented by IUPUI's Tourism, Conventions and Event Management Department. While Mr. Theroux did seem to wander off on tangents a bit, I learned quite a bit about him and was taken with some of the nuggets of wisdom he shared. Though Mr. Theroux currently lives in Cape Cod, he has lived in many places including a number of years in Great Britain. The resulting accent is an interesting cross between Boston and English. As a result of his travels, he was asked to speak about why people travel and the transformative nature of travel.

He began with a sailing metaphor. You can't see where you've come from or where you're going. You just have heart, belief and a direction. That's what it takes to be a true traveler. Mr Theroux also talked about how coming from a large family influenced him to travel. His mother always sent them outdoors. A large family teaches negotiation skills and gives you the urge to leave and claim your own space. These things are important to becoming a traveler. If you go away [from home], you are transformed. Mr. Theroux clearly feels we should all go away at some point. He joined the Peace Corps to get away and spent several years in central Africa.

I'll leave you with a few of those nuggets I mentioned earlier.

  • A tourist insulates himself, thinks of himself and his vacation. A traveler is open to experience and allows himself to be changed.
  • Make your own path and your path follows you.
  • Being disconnected when traveling isn't a bad thing. It forces you into the culture, language, and new relationships.

He finished the evening with "The Essential Tao of Travel," which I will paraphrase here.
Leave home
Go alone.
Travel light.
Bring a map.
Travel by land.
Walk across a national border.
Keep a journal.
Read a novel unrelated to the place you are.
If you have to bring a cell phone, avoid using it.
Make a friend.

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