Posted by: Sarah | September 6, 2008

but I look at you, warm in your dream…

Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness.   

Sure, we know that the Declaration of Independence tells us that we are entitled to all of these things, but good luck finding the third one.  You are only entitled to the pursuit of happiness, not necessarily the discovery.  Most human beings seem to have a remarkably difficult time figuring out just how to grab onto this notion of happiness.  We live in a world where the media is filled with “unhappy” news, we often make decisions that we know will not bring happiness to ourselves or others, yet we continue to claim that we just want to be happy.

So, what is happiness?  Go ahead, try to define it.  Not as easy as it sounds.  We are usually better at identifying when we are happy than explaining what exactly the emotion is.  For years, I have known that traveling inherently makes me happy.  Possibly happier than anything else.  This is not to say that it is easy or that every moment of traveling is positive, but you get my point.   

Living in a country that many consider to be amongst the happiest in the world, a sentiment felt by natives as well as expats, I spent a year contemplating the seeming discontinuity between the level of happiness that obviously existed in what many outsiders consider to be such a violent country.  It didn’t matter.  Despite the history of violence and inequality, Colombian people had somehow managed to discover the secret to happiness that eludes so many.  What is it about certain countries/cultures that seems to generate this contagious feeling of happiness?  

I just finished reading The Geography of Bliss: One Grump’s Search for the Happiest Places in the World, which is what triggered these thoughts.  The author never made it to Colombia, or any of Latin America, in his travels, but I guess in all fairness, that would have ended his experiment prematurely, as he would have found exactly what he was looking for without collecting nearly enough data for an entire book…  

Is that what all of us nomads are ultimately in search of, as we hit the road, traveling to unchartered lands, untrodden destinations, seeking adventure, knowledge, enlightenment?  Do we derive pleasure from being constantly on the move, life never becoming stagnant, the unpredictability of what is around the next corner?  Or are we all searching for our own “happiest place in the world”?  Will the true nomad ever be satisfied with what he finds?

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