I’m getting ready to present my vision of how the Heroic Life can become a movement, rather than one man’s pursuit. To set the stage for that, last week I put into concrete terms exactly what the Heroic Life is. The post caused a bit of controversy because I featured travel as a central part of it.
Today I’m delving into that more deeply. Why does the Heroic Life need travel?
There are many ways people become heroes. Most people who act heroically do so without ever planning it. One day they just find themselves in a situation where someone needs to step up and act—and they do.
This means that there can never be just “one right way” to act heroically. And, as I’ve said many times, no one can declare themselves a hero. It is a title that is given by others, not one you bestow upon yourself. I’m no hero and I may never be.
However, one can aspire to be as ready as possible to act heroically when needed. And that is the project of the Heroic Life.
Much of what I’ve been doing over the past year is identifying habits and practices that prepare one to act heroically.
I believe that travel is one such habit.
The Value of Travel
People can become heroes without ever traveling, but if you want to train for heroism, travel is a good bet. One of my first articles on Rogue Priest was how travel changes the mind. In it, I noted that all of the great religious founders in history traveled widely over the course of their lives. Travel is inherently tied to personal development, and cultivates many of the traits we expect to see in a hero.
- Travel teaches you to step outside of your comfort zone, continuously
- You learn what it means to be an outsider, which is one of the biggest fears you will have to face if you stand up for someone else
- You need to be constantly aware of your surroundings
- You learn how to trust your instincts
- You expand your view of the world and learn more about humanity
There are ways to learn these things without traveling. For instance, someone who lives in one city their whole life may constantly find ways to step outside of their comfort zone.
But, then again, they may not.
Travel forces you to do this. Perhaps not high-ticket, tour-and-hotels style travel, but if you immerse yourself in a new culture you will be unavoidably confronted with your own personal limits. You’ll either confront and expand them or you’ll run home.
That, to me, is why travel is such a good spiritual practice—perhaps the perfect spiritual practice—for someone aspiring to act heroically.
The Practical Side
I realize that many people have no interest in traveling, and others feel they’re unable to. In that sense, the path I’m designing here is not for everyone—it isn’t meant to be. I can’t say who is and is not a hero, and I know there are many other noble ways of living besides this one.
What I can do however is work to assemble a way of life that will really speak to those committed to living heroically. A way of life that will help them develop themselves into the most flexible, adaptable, selfless people possible. This will help them take successful action to stand up for others when the time is right.
The entire mythos of heroism is bound up in journeying, and I don’t think that’s an accident. I think crossing the world effects a profound change on an individual—a change that cannot be easily replicated any other way.
At the same time, many readers felt travel wasn’t necessary at all. Several people asked whether I only emphasize travel because it’s something that I personally strive for.
So the question I have for you is this. With this context—that I want to identify hero-developing habits—where does travel fit in? Does traveling change how people view the world? And is there any way to get that same perspective without leaving home? Share your comments and tell me what you think.
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