While on my vacation I read Eric Weiner’s The Geography of Bliss. It’s basically a series of travel essays from 10 different countries, where Wiener “engages in what is called la chasse au bonheur”, (French for the hunt for happiness) He discovers what happiness is to each of these specific countries, and how their cultures influence this: whether it’s sitting in a cafe, spending time in nature, actually experiencing life, or getting so drunk you forget you’re unhappy.
Besides discussions on happiness you get an insight on his destinations, and their ways of life. It’s full of great descriptions, and is a beautiful insight into other cultures. There are a few lines that really stuck out that I want to share:
“Travel, at its best, transforms us in ways that aren’t always apparent until we’re back home.”
“We tend to think of culture as something old and fragile. Culture is what we inherit from our ancestors and either preserve, or more likely squander.”
“I believe, now more than ever in the transformative promise of geography. Change your location and you just may change yourself. It’s not that distant lands contain some special “energy” or that thier inhabitants possess secret knowledge (though they may) but rather something more fundamental: By relocating ourselves, reorienting ourselves, we shake loose the shackles of expectation. Adrift in a different place we give ourselves permission to be different people.”
“Oddly, for a nation that so celebrates wanderlust, a nation who was practically founded on restlessness, we Americans take a dim view of those who embark on undirected travel. Better living through geography strikes us as a cop-out. Rootless souls, we suspect, must be running away from something. Perhaps, but they might also be running to something.”
I really enjoyed this book, and hope, if you read this, you will too. Also, I’d love to hear from others who have read this, and tell me what you thought.