The Beauty of small Things
Updated: Jan 7
When, towards the end of the 19th century, the great German novelist and travel writer Theodor Fontane wrote that “the whole world is travelling,” it was probably beyond his imagination that the beginning of the 21rst century saw -in just one year- more than a billion people travelling for leisure worldwide. The onset of Covid, of course, changed this. Travelling, once again, became a distant dream. Perhaps this is not just a curse, as perceived by many, but a blessing as well: to reflect about our mindless habit of travelling as often and as far as possible? To think about the actual meaning of travel? With closed borders, many discovered the beauty of their surroundings and had more time to enjoy a walk in the forest or along fields, a swim in a lake or stream not far from home. I heard my friends talk about it, the connect to nature in their backyards or in city-parks. This was certainly true for myself. I spent hours observing wasps building houses from mud, rolling hundreds of tiny mud-balls, softened and glued together by saliva, thus creating tiny studio apartments, into which they placed one egg each, before sealing them fully; I watched tadpoles transforming into tiny frogs, I started to recognize the calls of the bird species in my trees and tried to figure out what they were feeding on. I saw newly born dragon lizards grow into adults, and snakes feasting on frogs in my pond. All of this, the time, the focus, the connect to my immediate surroundings, shifted something within and, for different reasons, created memories that left a deep imprint. As Marcel Proust once framed it, “The real voyage of discovery consists not in seeking new landscapes, but in having new eyes.” Perhaps less travel, less far will not only contribute to a more sustainable world, but also allow us to reconnect to nature in meaningful ways.