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The Art of Slow Travel: Repeating Journeys to Truly Experience a Place

Updated: Jul 21, 2023

About slowness and experience
AI generated

In my early thirties, I found myself drawn to the concepts of slowness and minimalism. To some, this might have been seen as a form of defensive or defiant thinking. To me, it was a revelation about the value of spending time with the things that truly mattered to me.

Since 2014, I've been embarking on an annual, and sometimes biannual, bike trip to Ladakh. The route remains the same each time. Some might call this repetitive or even boring. I call it an experience. An experience, as I've come to understand, is not an impulsive feeling, but a sustained and consistent one. So, a repeat visit is required.

Consider the lessons learnt a night before the exams. They can be repeated the next day during the examination. But with each passing day, those crammed details may be forgotten. Even if exams are critiqued for encouraging memorisation, the process of learning is all about repetition.

Our minds are constantly in a state of flux. We have short bursts of multiple thoughts that are not in sync. For instance, while watching a cycling event on TV, I might recall how much I love cycling, but then my mind quickly moves to thoughts of blogging, worrying about future events, or remembering tasks on my to-do list. This thought process in our brains is akin to the random walk model, popular in economic theory. The next foot forward for a 'drunkard' is not contingent on his previous step.

Therefore, a repetition of an activity, maybe even several times, is needed to make it an experience. Realistically, memories are not the same as experiences. When I am journaling, I am more driven by the need to record my memories and feelings, which are not necessarily experiences.

This brings me to an interesting revelation that supports my advocacy for repetition in experiences, and by extension, the practice of slowness. I have data to prove that we all are repeating what we did in the past, but our memories fail us. I've accidentally journaled the same thing around the same time of the year for a few years.

This realization, that slowness comes with repetition, is what prompts me to write about the experience of slowness. Had I not journaled the same, I would not have discovered this about myself.

Slowness is not about being lazy. It is about being conscious of what we experience and since we're too distracted, it's better to repeat.

Minimalism in travel is akin to this practice of slowness and repetition, and isn't this relevant in other fields too?

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