Travel (life–change of scene) by Richard King

Story type: Essay

We know what it would be were we never for a single instant able to get away from the too-familiar scenes and people who, unconsciously, because of their very familiarity, drive us back upon ourselves. In each life there are a series of soul crises, when the spirit has to battle against some great pain, some great trouble, some overwhelming disillusion–to win, or be for ever beaten. But few, very few souls are strong enough to win that battle unaided. A friend may do it–though friends to whom you would tell the secret sorrows of your life are rare! But a complete change of scene and environment works wonders. Nature, travel, work–all these things can help you in your struggle towards indifference and the superficially normal. But where Nature and travel are useless, and work–well, work has to be something all-absorbing to help us in our conflict–is the only thing left, I wonder how men and women survive, unless, with sightlessness, some greater strength is added to the soul, some greater numbness to the imagination and the heart. But this I so greatly doubt. Truthfully, as I said before, the need for pity seems sometimes overwhelming, surpassing all imagining. I am sure that I myself would assuredly have gone mad had I not been able to lose myself a little in travel and change of scene. When the heart is tormented by some great pain, the spirit seems too utterly spiritless to do anything but despair. But life teaches us, among other things, some of the panaceas of pain. It teaches us that the mind finds it difficult to realise two great emotions at once, and that, where an emotion helps to take us out of ourselves, by exactly the strength of that emotion, as it were, is the other one robbed of its bitterness and its pain. Some people seek this soul-ease one way and some people by other means, but seek it we all must one day or another, and it seems to me that one of the wonders of the natural world, the sunlight and the stars, is that they are always there, magnificent and waiting, for the weary and the sorrowing to find some small solace in their woe.

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