Journeys Are the Midwives of Thought

From the otherwise strange book The Art of Travel by Alain de Botton, there’s the below golden nugget on how traveling can facilitate thinking. I’m reminded of my post where I argued that airplane time should be spent reading (and thus, thinking), not working on a laptop.

Journeys are the midwives of thought. Few places are more conducive to internal conversations than moving planes, ships, or trains. There is almost quaint correlation between what is before our eyes and the thoughts we are able to have in our heads: large thoughts at times requiring large views, and new thoughts, new places. Introspective reflections that might otherwise be liable to stall are helped along by the flow of the landscape. The mind may be reluctant to think properly when thinking is all it is supposed to do; the task can be as paralyzing as having to tell a joke or mimic an accent on demand.

Thinking improves when parts of the mind are given other tasks — charged with listening to music, for example, or following a line of trees. The music or the view distracts for a time that nervous, censorious, practical part of the mind which is inclined to shut down when it notices something difficult emerging in consciousness, and which runs scared of memories, longings and introspective or original ideas, preferring instead the administrative and the impersonal.

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