How to travel without going anywhere…if Kant could do it, why not you?

As Followers and readers of ‘Writing from the Twelfth House’ will know, I had to give up a busy career and most of ordinary life from the end of 2001 until launching this blog in 2008 – my first step in re-entering the public world. Severe burnout following a prolonged family crisis led to the loss of around 90% of my formerly exuberant energy;  it took a very long time indeed fully to recover and eventually return to part-time work in 2012.

Until at last declaring myself fit again – on top of a remote hill pass, way up in the beautiful wild land of Scotland’s far North-West in the summer of 2008 – I hardly travelled anywhere physically. Travel was, quite simply, beyond my capacity.

However, in physical limitation and confinement– usually spending several hours each day lying on a couch in our ‘Quiet Room”– I discovered a breadth and depth of mental, emotional, intellectual and spiritual freedom which had not been possible before in my busy and productive professional and personal life.

How I read! I was able to catch up with thirty years of reading , and in particular  freely to indulge a lifelong interest in my preoccupation with questions of “…mystery, meaning, pattern and purpose…” : cosmology, science (the open-minded kind, such as practised by eg Rupert Sheldrake), psychology, in-depth astrology, mythology, Nature, health and wellbeing, humour (that great survival device!) – in fact anything and everything which ultimately connects us up to the Big Picture.

And I wrote! Two books, both currently available – one free! –  as ebooks on this blog, and innumerable journals chronicling my inner and outer experiences of descent and return. S0 – I made this great discovery to an extent deeper than ever before:  one can travel the whole infinite multi-levelled world of  inner space without as much as setting foot on a train, boat or plane.

 Sophie Agrell is a published Scottish poet whose work I admire and have been happy to publish several times before on my blogs. When she showed me her latest poem, I loved it. Read it, and you will see exactly why… not that I would presume to compare myself to Emmanuel Kant, of course…


Immanuel Kant 1724-1804
Immanuel Kant 1724-1804

From Konigsberg

Ships voyaged

For days, weeks

Across the Baltic

To Hansa,


Places beyond

The quiet philosopher’s knowing,

Cities forever unseen,

Where other men thought,

Considered his philosophy,

His closely woven theories,

Wrote letters with scratchy quills

To their immovable friend.

Yet in all his life

Kant never left Konigsberg,

Never travelled

More than ten miles

From port, university,

That now-vanished German city.


You could set your clock

By Kant,

They said,

As he walked,

His route unchanging,

Through his city.

Freed from excitement,


The apprehension of change,

His mind roamed,

Far beyond

His body’s phenomenal world,

Exploring ethics,



Reason and human experience,

To enlighten,


Change ideas,

Create theories

Larger than a man,

A city,

A world.


Sophie Agrell





photo by Anne Whitaker


Sophie grew up in Kent, UK,  in a family whose connections spread from Sri Lanka, Sweden and Scotland throughout the world. She read Ancient andModern History at Oxford, eventually settling in Scotland where she works as a proof reader. She lives with her two dogs in a North Lanarkshire village. Sophie describes herself as “…. an escaped medievalist who watches the world, delights in its beauty, and grows roses…..”


600 words copyright Anne Whitaker/Sophie Agrell 2014
Licensed under Creative Commons – for conditions see Home Page

14 thoughts on “How to travel without going anywhere…if Kant could do it, why not you?

  1. Your withdrawal from ordinary life has the feeling of a shamanic illness/initiation. I’m in a similar dark place right now and it gives me hope to hear you’ve emerged whole. Thanks for sharing! 🙂

    1. Dear F.T

      I am so glad that you have read this timeously for you. There are a series of blog posts I wrote during my ‘dark night’ which you might find helpful – here is one which contains links to books which kept my head above water during some very dark times. Living in the moment, practising gratitude, loving support and the faith that my struggles were part of the unfolding of a bigger creative picture, all kept me going. And I can now see what the benefits were, are, and continue to be…Blessings to you, Anne

  2. Sophie Agrell’s poem speaks to my personal observation of [some] world travelers whose thinking is more narrow than a well-read person like Kant, passion and curiosity being key.

  3. Words that encompass not only the Sadge propensity for travel but also its need to explore all horizons. Expansion of possibilities and a room with a view necessary and this rich poem by Sophie is indeed a delight for those who ponder….

    1. Thanks for visiting and for yhese generous words, Carole!It’s always a pleasure to publish your work too. Perhaps something inspired by your Sagittarian love of mental
      (oops! Open to Glaswegian interpretation here…) travel for your next piece?

  4. Being a Sagittarian, your title “travel” caught my eye immediately! To use what has become a classic cliche – things do happen for a reason. Your illness allowed you to take time out and consequently your path took you to a whole new level of awareness.

  5. Yes, it’s great to be able to see that and to draw from it and offer positive energies out from that new, deeper source. But it’s so good to remind/be reminded that mind-broadening travel is not conditional upon even lifting a finger….unless it’s to pick up a book, of course! Thanks for visiting, Bev!

  6. I’ve always said that there are two ways to travel. We can travel far, or we can travel deep. If we’re lucky, we’re able to combine the two at least a few times in our life, but they are distinct modes, with their own rewards and challenges.

    One of the best reasons I can think of to ponder the “Kantian travel” Sophie writes about is that, eventually, all of us will become limited in our ability to travel because of age and/or infirmity. Even now, my night driving is quite limited. I’m no longer able to stand watch at night aboard ship, and if I’m not familiar with the roads, I prefer not to roam the countryside at night.

    Thinking about such things long before they become pressing issues is important.All of us live with the assumption that life will continue on as it is, but that isn’t true, and we never know when the blow will come. So I appreciate the poem, and the discussion. It’s one more reminder that even in the constancy of daily life, we can find opportunities for change.

  7. Thank you for this meditative post, from one who I know has travelled in both modes boldly and gracefully.

    You are so right, Linda, about considering changes that CAN be anticipated, and trying to adjust to what they bring in an accepting way. I think that is the key to graceful ageing.

    I’ll leave you with one of my favourite Buddhist slogans, from the late great Tibetan teacher Chogyam Trungpa: “Regard chaos as extremely good news!” I used to recite this one to myself, over and over again – sometimes my husband would join in too – when things were really tough during my ‘dark night’ experience. It never failed to make me laugh, at the sheer absurdity of our notion as tiny beings on a speck of interplanetary gravel, that we can actually control ANYTHING very much…

    1. “Regard chaos as extremely good news!” Situations in my life being completely out of control at the moment, I thank you, Anne, for this. 🙂

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