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Has the desire for new experiences become an important myth of modern society?

Updated: Aug 23, 2021

Travelling has become an imperative for many of us.

We travel because of a need, but travelling for experience and leisure has been for a long time the main goal for our yearly vacation plans. Vacation equals travel now.

What does new experience mean for us today?

We do care about our journey, people we meet there, accommodation, food, quality and the best use of time is our priority.

But what is beyond this is a drive for something ‘new’. Something which we need to ‘get’ as a reward for our hard work throughout the year, long hours and daily obligations. First things which of course pops up are physical rest, mental recovery from accumulated stress and all that entertainment and hedonism behind the corner waiting for us.

Even when we travel for education or long term work possibilities we consider some basic criteria and always focus on the destination and what it provides for us, which should be better than what we have now.

But do you remember that feeling after you come back from vacation and you are refreshed and clear headed (or even stronger feeling after a long stay)? It is not only because you had entertainment and relaxing moments. Almost certainly you learned something new on the way and had new experiences. Time spent on new activities altered your state of mind. It makes you see the world from a new angle. You prepare for travel with the idea to get away from the place you live and put all the troubles behind you, at least for some period.

But most certainly you travel only to be able to get back. Return is even more important than reaching a destination.

It seems there is a fundamental correlation associated between our desire to own an experience of something new and our roots from where our journey started. Meaning, we would not ‘get there’ if we didn’t move away from ‘somewhere’ as a starting point. So the link is between the old place and new place. Old us and new us. In other words, we would not have a desire to move or change our place if there was no existence of the old place. Seems like an old place or an old state of mind actually has an unconscious urge to change us, but needs some help. It was never about the destination in the first place.

I was so fascinated with this thought that I immediately realized after a while what this modern myth of travel and new experience reminds me of.

We are all like living heroes of the past struggling through our hero journey in a more simplified new modern myth. 'Hero Myth' is the most representative example of this showing us that place where we wanted to go and even our journey is not important. Focus has always been on our transformation and change of the state of mind. Modern myth is proving this by our statements to be ‘like new’ after our trips back. So return is the most important part and what we actually learn on the way. Ancient hero myth usually depicts a character being in an unconscious stage of an inexperienced child who has to fight with monsters to save the world or the beloved princess in danger.

His path is dangerous and full of thorns and difficulties, but he learns a great deal about life and returns to his little village as reborn and redempted. This myth is extremely important for our culture as it is embedded in the very fabric of our lives through literature, theatre, movies and even video games. This is the narrative that we also live today without realizing it from the days we go to school, stumble through the teenage years and then later while building our careers and settling in our private and family lives.

My point is that we didn’t move far away from the hero myth of the past and that some certain archetypal patterns are always in the background guiding our actions and attitudes. Result at the end of this unconscious drive is individual inner transformation.

There is a huge difference between these two myths as well. In our modern narrative of constant run for new experiences we transition from a less comfortable stage to an extremely comfortable positive stage (but still exciting and adventurous one), where the traditional myth hero is being kicked out of his ordinary comfort zone to a dark road where he struggles, fights and receives magical powers.

However what links those two myths is that in both cases something ‘wants’ to see the hero changed. Fact that now we live overly materialistic and secure lives doesn’t mean that it doesn’t need a shake up. Drive actually lurks in the fact that we need quick gateways, change of careers, social sabbaticals and getting offline, or just some more time to think where we are and what we want. Also the immature first stage of a traditional hero is opening a world of danger and unexplored territory which needs to be conquered in order to grow up. The brave new world is pushing our hero forward. Today our story is perhaps missing dragons and demons, but we replaced them with emptiness, depression, stress and anxiety.

What we should realize is that sometimes travelling to fulfill surface desires is not necessarily needed to achieve change of consciousness. And that change of consciousness is the actual goal that our soul truly desires! But this modern myth for sure proves that we still do things today without realizing actually why they are good or bad for us.

We all need new and different points of view to challenge our rigid ways of thinking, with or without travelling.

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