23rd October, 2019
Athens is truly an incredible place, but for most of my trip to Greece, I was hampered by one thought:
I don’t really enjoy travel anymore.
Or more specifically, the enthusiasm I used to have for it—for discovering new places, new cultures, new arts, new backstreets, new islands, new people—has dwindled to the point of negligibility.
Partly this is due to the impending sense of doom the world apparently wants to foist onto me. The feeling that the world’s going to end at any moment, that it already has ended. Europe’s population is declining, millions are arriving from Africa. What’s the point in reading a 3000-year-old play, or looking at an old church? The culture that created it, the people who worshipped in it, will be gone soon—are gone—never existed!
Partly it is due to the fact that I’ve travelled almost constantly for the last 4 and a half years. I’ve not spent more than 3 consecutive months in one place since 2014. Evelyn Waugh said, “At the age of 35 one needs to go to the moon, or some such place, to recapture the excitement with which one first landed at Calais.”
This is about how I feel about travel now.
I land in Athens and think, “Its temples do not shimmer as Bangkok’s do.” In Bangkok I think, “The canals are not clear, as Venice’s are.” I land in Venice and think, “It isn't as varied as London.” I land in London and think, “It has not one temple.” And I land in India and think, “Get me the fuck out of India.”
So the whirligig goes on, and the excitement I once got from racing around Venice for weeks on end can now nowhere be found.
I guess that’s part of the great dissipation of youth, which I do seem to have already stretched beyond its natural limit.
Is there anywhere still worth discovering? Or does wider experience necessarily lead to narrower excitement?