Travel, or Refrigerators and Stoves
So, it was an easy chat with a friend who knew I had something to do with the travel biz. He knew I traveled. He knew I produced content (videos, Audio PostCards, travel news reports, trends) for our own site, New Media Travel, Technorati Travel, Tripatini, and others.
But he was fixated on the actual travel. The grand act of “going places,” as he called it. But this was the surprise: he thought it (travel) was a waste of time, money and energy.
The usual responses to my hitting the road frequently are envious ones, bordering on the incredulous, usually followed by remarks like, “Some guys have all the luck,” or “What a dream job.”
This friend saw travel as a waste. A waste of what? A waste of energy. A waste of time. A waste of money..and mostly, a waste of opportunity.
In his mind, all the hassles of getting to a place were a waste.
He enumerated, effortlessly, the endurance process of getting a cab to the airport, dealing with delays, security lines, bad seats, horrible food, delays, and so forth. I understood.
But, I said, once there, a whole world opens up. Thinking of the moments sipping a coffee at at local coffee shop in a sun-speckled plaza. Or treks into the Panamanian forests to chat with chattering monkeys.
“Come on,” he said. “Truthfully, by the time you reverse the journey and go through all those hassles and finally land home, I bet the trip has been just about erased from your mind. And think of all the money you spent.”
He added, “And I bet a week later you say, ‘Oh my God, a week ago we were in…..’. Could it have just been a week ago?”
I tended to agree.
Too many times a great travel experience was quickly wiped clean from my body and mind by the familiar: The weight of the routine of home. The job of getting home. The speed with which the mundane and familiar returned has always been unsettling.
Tempting to say, “Keep traveling. Don’t stop,” but that seems childish.
So, I said, “But I have all these deep memories. Images in my mind and on my computer. Travel helped me understand myself better, and gave me a glimpse into the world, made me more aware.”
He shrugged and smiled. “Really? OK. You seem pretty much the same person to me that I’ve always known.”
He suggested instead that travel gave me bragging rights (” I saw the Umayyad Mosque in Damascus”), some memories, but, and here was his point, with the money spent, I could have bought a stove (Dual Range, 800-$1,000), or a refrigerator ($749-1,000) and they would last me for years and years! Visible. Tangible. Useful.
How long did I say the memories of my Tunisia experience lasted?
I knew you couldn’t compare the richness of travel to a gleaming new stove…or, in the aggregate, a shiny new car. One was spiritual; life-enriching. The other so boringly mundane, materialistic.
But he was beginning to get to me. All the years of travel, the images and experiences…are they accessible to me now?
How do I measure their lasting impact on myself, my family, who often traveled with me?They say those were life-forming moments. Make us who are today.
I think so.
But today, the gleaming Dual Fuel Range would still be cooking and providing great meals long after the Cappuccino has cooled in the piazza of Torino. No?