It is popular knowledge that the wonder died a lonely death when wanderlust became a collectible item. When bucket-lists and must-see listicles crowded the view, it was travel who became clickbait. The most heart-breaking side-effect of the over-tourism industry (besides increased pollution, cultural identity loss and resource depletion amongst others) was the cruel death of awe.
Awe abandoned struck, settled with some, and resigned itself to an overused Instagram hashtag's life - because we'd all already 'seen that on Snapchat' or 'read about it on a blog'. Travelling wasn't so much about the discovery of new as it was about hitting the top-spots (Bali's La Favela is a striking example). Much like the tour guide who shares the same old tidbit with practiced fascination, our reactions became rehearsed. We weren't at fault - how could we be amazed by a fact that we had already been bombarded with?
This is all, in the era pre-Covid-19 of course.
Today, awe can be found in the dusty corner of your local coffee shop, the one you've pined to visit for months. Awe features on trips to consumer stores and sporadic weekend drives. Awe sits front and centre on plane seats, all shiny and new again.
As captive animals slowly being released into the big blue, our sense of discovery is careful, but returning. Previously desensitised to yet another airplane window view, our insides now jump with real joy at the prospect of it. It makes sense - only stagnation of life can renew a fervour for it.
When the assumed returns to privilege, the privileged stop assuming. Perhaps now when we travel we'll be impulsive and have meaningful interactions with strangers, or listen to waves and create our own itineraries - whichever style suits your travel type. Being surrounded by trees, not the tallest or the oldest - just trees - will be the achievement.
Today's cliche is that Covid-19 has forced us to re-ascertain our priorities; but the undiscovered part of that forward is this - it has also illuminated a refreshed perspective of the run-down road.