Three days ago I returned from a three-week backpacking trip in Europe. It was a nice trip. A lot of things happened to my mind and with my perception of myself in the world as a result of witnessing other approaches to being alive every day.
These realizations and new intuitions are from so many different corners of human experience (politics, city planning, education, work, etc.) and are still percolating into explicable things that I can’t yet share them. However, partially because I haven’t posted in a month and partially to pick a ground zero from which to begin hashing out those other thoughts, I want to share a page from my journal.
This is a short reflection I scribbled down while drinking wine on a bench in the Tuileries Garden in Paris. When in Rome…
This was about halfway through my trip, when my joy was at a peak and concern with my “dawdling” was growing:
I’m starting to wonder what I’m really getting out of travel.
At times I get the impression I’m sort of window-shopping; I’m fantasizing about these different environments. This isn’t necessarily bad, except that I’m very prone to romanticizing each place, as though my life would be instantly better and more interesting if I just moved there. These places are conducive to romanticizing – they’re fucking awesome – but it’s still a bad habit.
I feel like a tourist in the worst sense: I’m not just excited by the possibility of observing other ways of life, I’m excited to temporarily escape mine. This means that instead of steadily improving the everyday, long-term life I have been cobbling together, I’m simply distracting myself with these masturbatory forays into foreign places.
Is it all bad?
For one, I may never have come to such a realization without getting away. (ex.The Alchemist)
Second, I think seeing different ways of living has awakened a sensibility for a life worth living, no matter where that life unfolds. True appreciation and a kind of calm gusto can be practiced anywhere.
Three, if I think America is out of the loop about this sensibility, can’t I contribute to a Renaissance?
(Edited for clarity)
I was a little harsh on myself here, but I like these ideas:
– Romanticizing is dangerous and misguided.
– “Calm gusto” – I’ll pat myself on the back here because I love this. It’s like excitedly deliberately taking life slow and enjoying it.
– Create the setting you want.
I’m interested in what you may think about this type of romanticizing – I know I’m not the only one who does it. What other lessons/realizations have you come to while traveling?
Comment below, y’allllll.