Sunday, December 12, 2004

On Travelling, the inevitable post

This blog has been influenced by travel a lot. I basically spent an entire year doing just that, the classic go someplace, come back, get bored, go another place, come back, live for a while, get bored, leave again, thing, on and on, over and over, although I only left the country twice, and then only went on any sort of real venture overseas once. The other time I just went to Mexico for a day. Which the boarder guards on the U.S. side loved, but that's truly another story.

Anyways, one of the core Gen-X mythos components is travelling for the hell of it. There's even been written a smirky little book entitled "Vagabonding", by Ralph Potts, about how to travel extensively and lead an itinerant life.

Like many of these Gen-X 'cool things to do', I found the encounter, on the intellectual level, with these sorts of writers talking about it as being insanely littered with "I'm so much better than you are, you aren't shit, if you were you'd be out here doing all these crazy and weird things that I'm doing. Neener neener.".

Well, now that I've actually, and in a quite unplanned way, done just what they've been proclaiming, I find, not surprisingly, that I have a different view of it than they do.

My view is this: Travelling, although wonderful in some ways, chronic travelling in particular, is a low rent con.

How do I mean this?

Well, travelling, in my view, is the archetypical example of getting something for nothing: you get, by virtue of being out of your surroundings, not working, staying in places which aren't regular homes, and having freedom of movement, much more than you put in.

The quality is delivered in the experience itself, which, by it's very nature, is valuable. Not so much for the inhabitants, but for YOU, yes, indeed it is very valuable, and won't be diminished...

Now, the experience is the thing. If you can get the cost down, and, I know for a fact, this can in fact be done so that the food and lodging basically just facillitate the experience, and don't offer anything extraneous besides basic function, and if you choose the non-stupid and worthless expensive tourist things to do, on top of it, do things like learn the public transportation system extremely well, can get closer and closer to basically having the experience for almost nothing. And since the experience is so valuable, you get to a point where you can travel cheap and basically benefit just from being there as an outside observer.

Which brings us to the question of this: travel isn't going to go away. People are always going to go on vacations of some sort and do some sort of travelling, never mind what an impending economic collapse might bring. Therefore, you can always expect that if you go into the travelling mode that you'll be able to reap this surplus value from the experience you get rather dependably.

Now, since getting something for nothing is a sure thing, when you work in order to get the money to pay for the nuts and bolts of your experience, what exactly are you doing?

You aren't 'working' in the traditional sense.

Instead, you're engaging in work so that you can reap the benefits of a cheap and freely given experience which gives you, as a traveler, benefits which you'd never be able to enjoy in your home area.

So you're jumping from hospitality experience to hospitality experience, never really facing the music, and ultimately someone else is paying for it.

The people who live normal lives in those areas, whose experience you're sponging off of, are paying for your limited travel existence because without them you wouldn't be able to enjoy what you enjoy. It just wouldn't be there.

People are never going to turn against hospitality in general, even if they may make noises here and there about the damn tourists, which are never meant to be taken seriously, so theoretically one could live like this, evading real life, just working for the freedom of being treated differently as a tourist, even a long term one, indefinitely.

But what are you doing?

Locking yourself into a life where you can experience a very limited range of things very freely yet unable to experience others because of your disconnection from things, which is a product of being a tourist?

What kind of long term life is that?

Eventually you have to touch back to ground and back to home and make something more meaningful of yourself if you want to have a fuller experience of life than creative loafing in interesting places brings.

And that can be painful.

But necessary.

So travel the world, woo hoo!

Work just in order to travel, then fuckin' take it to the hills for a few months in rural Asia and have the time of your life, then go back, earn a few bucks, and do it again!

Just remember the Bob Dylan song, which may not make sense to you or which may:You've got to serve someone.

You may be the ambassador to England or France, you might like to gamble, you might like to dance, you might be the heavyweight champion of all the world, you might be a socialite with a long string of pearls but you're gonna have to serve someone......

Eventually you've got to quit the evasion of being on an endless summer where the rest of the world can be put off and take a stand on where you stand in relation to the world around you, one which can't be ran from but has to be stuck with.

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