To be a good guest — like being a good host — one needs to be secure in one’s own premises: where you stand, who you are... Travel is a search for meaning, not only in our own lives, but also in the lives of others. The humility required for genuine travel is exactly what is missing from its opposite extreme, tourism.Vulnerability? Humility? And — at the same time — it's supposed to be loftier than mere tourism?
The kind of travel to which we aspire should tolerate uncertainty and discomfort. It isn’t about pain or excessive strain — travel doesn’t need to be an extreme sport — but we need to permit ourselves to be clumsy, inexpert and even a bit lonely.I used to throw myself out of my own country like that. Buy tickets to somewhere and then have to go. I wished I could back out. I was lonely when I was there. I spent a lot of money. I'm actually not a good tourist at all. It was always some kind of spiritual journey for me, a pilgrimage. So I don't identify with the tourism the linked authors sniff at. But I have become very skeptical of the notion that we are supposed to travel for lofty purposes. Is it humble to believe you're above those other tourists and somehow able to commune with foreign locals?
Somebody in the comments at the link quotes Thoreau: "I have travelled a good deal in Concord." That's what crossed my my mind too. Some years ago, I traveled, alone, to Amsterdam, and the book I read there was "Walden." I felt so lonely, and wrote down the quote: "Why should I feel lonely? Is not our planet in the Milky Way?"
I got to that first link via Nina, who has traveled a good deal in Europe. She's comparing showers in France, Spain, and Wisconsin. In Spain and France, the public beach showers are out in the open. At Devil's Lake State Park in Wisconsin, they are in the bathroom, and when ladies are in them with the curtain closed, they expect you not to peek, even if they are taking too long.
I thought about this for a minute. Privacy. Our big entitlement. Mine, mine, not anyone else’s. It struck me that if someone screamed at me in this way in, say, France, I’d have to think that there’s pent up anger seething there, among the people....Wisconsinites do have this sense of entitlement, and they shout in your face about it when they feel righteously angry. Remember the Rotunda. And they do mix up the concept of having rights with the problem of deciding when and how to use them. But privacy is a big one. And women can feel quite vulnerable, especially when taken a shower. There's a reason "Psycho" is judged the scariest movie of all time.
So I wondered if maybe we are a nation of very angry people. As the media broadcasts our general dissatisfaction (with Congress, with each other), as opportunities for expressing anger flourish (blast away at the person you don’t agree with – it’s your right!), maybe we let it all out at the expense of looking for something less... well, loud?
And, by the way... that article? The one promoting "vulnerability" in traveling? It was written by men. Of course. You want to stretch yourself beyond the usual realm of everyday life and what you come up with is vulnerability? Chances are you are not a woman.