Socrates on a Sunday Night: On Travel, Freedom, and Identity

Socrates, so spot on, per usual: ‘…the truly free individual is free only to the extent of his own self-mastery.’


Lately, I’ve been contemplating autonomy and self-mastery as it relates to personal identity. Specifically vis-á-vis my self-created identity as traveler, wanderluster, aspiring expat, citizen of the world, and other first world luxuries.

So when my good friend Asha emailed me about my recent blog post on ‘Confessions of an ex-expatriate’ and posed some thoughtful and challenging questions on the impact of first world travelers and expats who choose to visit or live abroad on local cultures, it inspired me to reconsider this identity I’d built around travel and other cultures.

Asha writes, ‘Freedom of movement is a luxury that expats often take for granted or flat-out forget.’ I tend to agree with her, and also find interesting what often motivates this freedom of movement to begin with:

‘Going to another country doesn’t make any difference.  I’ve tried all that.  You can’t get away from yourself by moving from one place to another.  There’s nothing to that.’
-Ernest Hemingway,  The Sun Also Rises

So if freedom of movement is a so-called first world problem,  and Hemingway believes (and I concur) that freedom from self is what drives freedom of movement to begin with,  then what is freedom?

Enter Socrates via Steven Pressfield:
‘…the truly free individual is free only to the extent of his own self-mastery’
-Steven Pressfield, The War of Art

What are your thoughts,  dear reader? What drives you to travel, study, live, or work abroad?  What makes you feel free?

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