“To the few who have traveled;
To the many who would like to go abroad,
But are restrained by timidity;
To the lacking in funds;
To the sick and convalescent who promise themselves
Sight of the world when health will permit;
More especially, to the multitude of unfortunates, who on account of incurable ailments of
Whatever kind, can never hope to escape the narrow confines in which their lots are cast,
I venture to address this introduction.”
— Lew Wallace
And so begins “Scenes from Every Land: Over Five Hundred Photographic Views. Designed to Take the Place of an Extended Tour of the World” by Thomas Lowell and Ed Knox, published in 1892 with an introduction by General Lew Wallace.
I found it among a dusty pile of long-forgotten titles on the floor of Dooryard Books, a quaint treasure trove of the old and rare, in Rockland, Maine. I had been in search of vintage copies of Jules Verne novels but quickly swapped sea creatures and the center of the earth for a more personal world. The writing was so honest, so selfless and stirring that with the book in my hands I scanned the empty store, wishing to find someone I could share it with.
“Hey, this is the best book dedication ever! This is what it’s all about!”
But there was no one. Just the old man in the front, sitting at his desk and slowly turning the page of the book he was reading. If Maine had tumbleweeds, one would have blown by outside at that very second.
I don’t think I’m alone when I say — my fellow travelers, writers, bloggers and photographers — that unbeknownst to General Lew Wallace in 1892, his dedication was also written for us.
How easy is it to forget the miracle of travel? Of flight or a road trip or a simple walk in the woods? How often do we let incredible scenes of the past cast a shadow over those of the present? How often do we think that if something isn’t perfect, it’s not good? This mentality is so natural and yet so destructive to our happiness on the road. It’s time we listen to Lew.
I promised myself that I would revisit the dedication before my next trip. I would remember it when I found myself complaining about flight delays, lackluster hotels, homesickness, rain or long-awaited destinations that don’t live up to their websites. And suddenly I felt thankful that I was even in Maine in the first place.
– written by Marc Cappelletti, a freelance writer and the Director of Expedition Development for Lindblad Expeditions and National Geographic