Monday, July 20, 2015

The Tourist's Perspective

Travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry, and narrow-mindedness, and many of our people need it sorely on these accounts. Broad, wholesome, charitable views of men and things cannot be acquired by vegetating in one little corner of the earth all one’s lifetime.
--Mark Twain
Something I've been thinking about is how regular, routine life is a constant business trip for most of us. Yet it doesn't have to be. When we are truly on a leisure vacation, we can let go and detach. At least that is what we should be able to do.

Some are better at it than others. Some travel with a sense of obligation to see the things they are supposed to see and an expectation that the world owes them something. Those with this attitude tend to be miserable whether on the holiday road or not. For them the answer to 'how much does it cost?' is always 'how much do you got?'

Others take a healthier perspective viewing travel as a quest for fun. To unwind, explore, and grow--spiritually, mentally, physically. There is no reason to limit this quest and this mindset to the 10 days a year you sleep away from home. Sure the world can be hot and dangerous, but it is also amazingly rewarding.

I think taking on what I call the tourist's perspective opens up the world and frees one's mind. In that way anywhere we are becomes Disneyland for us. Chicago, for example, is a staged adventure set up for us, provided we don't live in Chicago or have significant ties to there. What I am suggesting is that we take that ethos and apply it to our constant travels through all of life. Chicago should be stunning to everyone including the most serious Chicagoan.

A good tourist is an observer who assumes the world is working fine without him; perhaps he can contribute and improve, but he treads lightly. When he sees something he doesn't understand, he first assumes it is correct and he is confused. He is a enthusiastic student and a reluctant teacher. The model is more like Anthony Bourdain rather than Christopher Columbus. Read this and understand that it is not just advice for how to see Europe--it is advice on how to see life.

In the tourist's mindset we don't take anything too seriously, we're more willing to compromise and roll with the punches, and we aren't possessive; of course, this may mean we don't take full ownership of our actions. Like anything, it can be taken too far. We cannot live life constantly under the credo 'What Happens In Vegas Stays In Vegas . . . and everywhere is Vegas'. But you have to have a credo, and something closer to the tourist's mindset should guide us at home and abroad. I say, go for it!