Lecture Delivered by Bob Ramsay
University Lecture Series
University of Toronto
School of Continuing Studies
This lecture is not called New Places to Travel, but rather New Ways to Travel.
By that I mean new ways to think about travel. Because how you view travel is how you will travel.
It also means looking at what travel can come to mean in your life, how you and your tastes and income can be at home with travel, and the many ways technology and demographics have changed travel in the past 10 years – and will change it even more in the next decade mainly for the better, but sometimes not.
Most of all, this is about how you can use travel to create a richer life. If a week on the beach every winter does that for you, terrific. But there’s a world of other possibilities out there that I urge you to explore.
They’re summed up in the words of Cheryl Strayed who at 26 thought she’d lost everything. Her mother’s sudden death from cancer tore her family apart. Her marriage crumbled. She started taking drugs. With nothing to lose, she made a wild decision: to hike eleven hundred miles, from the Mojave Desert into Washington State, and to do it alone.
She then decided to write about her bizarre quest in a memoir entitled WILD. That book went on to sell 10 million copies worldwide and became a hit movie.
“I decided to hike it for three months,” she wrote, “because I thought it might heal my shattered heart and because walking was less expensive than driving or flying or taking a train. I would be a pilgrim travelling the ancient way.”
“When I stood on the bridge that spans the Columbia River and marked the end of my 94 day trek at the border of Oregon and Washington, I was profoundly happy to be done, but I was also thinking more… more… more. Traveling at footspeed taught me a lot of things and one of them was about the meaning of travel itself. It was powerful and transformative and necessary. I wanted to know the endless misery and beauty of it. That fact was a fire in me that wouldn’t go out. It was one I decided to feed forevermore.”
My wife and I did something similar in 1992 We hiked a thousand miles of the Appalachian Trail from Georgia to Washington, DC. Different reasons, but the same effect. Travel has changed our lives and, in many ways, driven them. In fact, that trip was one of main reasons she IS my wife, but that’s a story for another day.
That said, after the next hour, I hope that the same affliction strikes you.
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