Memories Are Made Of This

We have a little adage we share with our customers around our place that goes like this, “Lend us your dreams and we will repay you with memories.”  Undoubtedly, one reason I like the phrase so much is that, in a rare moment of clarity, I penned it.  We are all partial to our own progeny, are we not?

Anyway, it turns out that dreams are fungible.  Most people, if they lend you their dreams are quite happy to be repaid in unforgettable memories. In this regard, my heart beats asgold-coin-wooden-box one with our clients.  When describing the travel business to the uninitiated I often say, “No doubt I will die as poor as a church mouse but I shall pass the autumn of my life, like Midas with his golden coins, running the fingers of my mind through a personal trove of indelible memories.” 

In my more reflective moments, and you must forgive me as I am feeling a little pensive today, I marvel at the all the places I have visited and experiences I have garnered over the past couple of decades.  I am reminded of the words of the brilliant Benjamin Disraeli, the erstwhile British prime minister, “Like all great travelers, I have seen more than I remember, and remember more than I have seen.”

There are any number of sound reasons to travel:

to realize our aspirations – “We wander for distraction but we travel for fulfillment.”   Hillaire Belloc

to broaden our perspective – “One’s destination is never a place, but a new way of seeing things.”   Henry Miller

to cure our parochialism – “Travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry and narrow-mindedness.”  Mark Twain

If these aren’t reason enough, my friend Kate over at Trip Logic has written a great post called 100 Reasons To Travel Inspired By Bloggers From Across The Globe not diminished in the least by the fact that one of this humble blogger’s posts somehow slipped into the list!

Train ConductorWhat I am suggesting here is that one of the very best rationales for travel is to make a lifetime of deposits into your memory bank so that you can live off the interest of fond recollections up to the very day the Great Conductor shouts “Last stop!” 

One of these days . . . not today so don’t panic . . . I will perhaps tell you about the gypsy girl who literally threw herself under the tour bus I was guiding (OK, perhaps not under but certainly into) and the near riot that ensued.  Some day I will tell you about flying DFW to Miami to Rio de Janiero to Belo Horizonte, staying for only one night and flying the same route back home not once but twice within a ten-day window!  If you are truly blessed, I will tell you about running in the famous annual Sydney “City To Surf” race with literally ten minutes forethought and zero training or preparation.  That is, if I can do so without instinctively clutching my calves and whimpering like a small puppy.

Travel is a get rich slow scheme, of sorts.  Do as I have done and you won’t have two nickles to rub together but you will have the widest irrepressible grin of any 90-year-old Walmart greeter in the entire chain. 

Two Provocative Travel Insights From G.K. Chesterton

Writer

Writer (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

You are to be altogether forgiven if the initials G.K.C. strike no immediate chord with you. Let me assure you, however, that there was a time in the early twentieth century when those initials at the conclusion of an essay or newspaper article (mere initials being the customary byline of the time) guaranteed a thoughtful reading by the literate class across the entire English-speaking world.   As my title reveals, those initials stand for the English journalist, novelist and essayist, Gilbert Keith Chesterton.

Chesterton was, and still is, one of the world’s most quoted individuals.   You would be doing yourself an immense and pleasurable favor to Google “G. K. Chesterton quotes” and spend a little time perusing any of the several sites that come up.   Today, however, I want to call your attention to two particular quotes.  The first offers an insight into the proper approach to travel and the second reveals the single greatest benefit of traversing the planet.

“The traveler sees what he sees. The tourist sees what he has come to see.”

When we pack to go on a trip we all pack two kinds of items:

Picture from ATTitude

Picture from ATTitude

1)  We consciously pack every tangible item we think we might need.  (In my case, unfortunately, that tends to be everything I could conceivably need in any climate under any set of foreseeable or unforeseeable circumstances resulting in baggage fees equal to the GDP of small nations.  Don’t even ask about the ladies’ lingerie or the bunny.)

2)  We subconsciously pack an invisible suitcase with intangible items such as every expectation, preconceived notion,  prejudice, and misconception we have ever harbored regarding our destination.

This practice, of which we are almost all guilty to some extent, makes us very vulnerable to seeing only that which we expect and plan to see.  As G. K .C. astutely suggests, a true traveler manages to removed the filtered sunglasses of expectation and absorbs reality as he or she encounters it.  As G. K .C. once remarked of some of his contemporaries, ““It isn’t that they can’t see the solution. It is that they can’t see the problem.”  The best way to ensure you are a traveler and not a tourist, is to recognize this growth inhibiting problem and determine that you are going to travel more like a wide-eyed child than a jaded know-it-all.

“The whole object of travel is not to set foot on foreign land; it is at last to set foot on one’s own country as a foreign land.” 

This quote demands a little more reflection.  It seems paradoxical to the first which is hardly surprising since every fan of G. K .C. knows he is often referred to as the “prince of paradox.”  He believed that if you really wanted to see something clearly you could do that best by standing on your head.

Tourist

Picture from Anna Maria Island Realtor

We are all so immersed in our own culture that it practically never occurs to us to question anything about it.  They say a fish does not know there is any such thing as water.  What envelopes you, largely gets ignored.  Ah, but when you travel to a distant land (remember, as a traveler, not a tourist!), suddenly everything seems strange and . . . well . . . foreign.

When we return home, especially after an extended stay, suddenly we notice all sorts of things we had heretofore taken totally for granted.

Why do we drive on the right?  Why do we switch hands with our forks?  Why do we use Fahrenheit?  What is the big bleeping deal with soccer (OK, football everywhere else) anyway.?  Why don’t we have a Parliament?  You mean all women don’t shave under their arms???  You mean all male children aren’t circumcised???

If Socrates was right that the unexamined life is not worth living, then one of the best ways to re-examine all your core beliefs is to travel somewhere with a radically different culture and a markedly different perspective.

Finally, apologies to those who regularly tune in expecting to find a more liberal sprinkling of silliness often topped off by a shot of stupidity, straight up.  Ever so often I feel compelled to write a relatively sane post to restore a modicum of credulity and decorum to this blog.  But never fear,  I am sure in my next post I will resort to the same tasty yet trivial travel tripe for which I am rapidly earning a reputation.  Just remember, tripe can be quite tasty.  What do you think goes into a hotdog?