|This is one of my favorite "I am having a moment" moments. Elephant ride in Thailand.|
All right so let’s not disparage sightseeing. It’s one thing to sightsee at a fake haunted house in Guanajuato or wherever and pretend like you’re having a moment. It’s quite another to sightsee at a revered, possibly holy site such as Angkor Wat. You are having an experience, of course, you are being forced to see with new eyes. Perhaps the event won’t translate into any change in your life, it won’t translate into any good in the world. But oh hell, in that moment you saw. We deserve these life moments of wonder to refresh ourselves from the expected.
I’m not really working while traveling Southeast Asia, unless you count spinning such crap as “How To Know If He’s Still Interested” as working. I don’t know when it happened that I thought I could afford such outlandish dignity. I cling to it, even when I really should be grateful to earn a living. But I like to think I’m an intellectual, so I scoff at the rough bread I bake to keep going. Life is just better when you’re above it.
It’s logical then to think that sightseeing would be my “job.” Right? Every day I should get up at a reasonable hour and see things. Important things are best, though they can be padded with a few minor sights as long as I’m making the effort to fill the day. During the day I see and at night I relax, or I shift the schedule around slightly. Perhaps I relax all morning and see at night. After all, let’s not get tyrannical. We’re not working after all, no, we’re on vacation. A seeing vacation, full of importance. Full of sights. Report back the sights or they didn’t happen. Social media, quirky updates.
I’m in Bali! Today we did x, y and z. We didn’t waste a minute, or not that you’d ever be able to tell. We saw all the top sights on Tripadvisor, plus this locally relevant restaurant and look at our inexpensive but grand hotel. We’re enjoying ourselves so much! Look at us posing. We’re little traveling monkeys, looking traveling appropriate, posed in front of whatever background we think should be there, or you think should be there, it’s all the same.
I can't even think right now about contributing. Volunteering. That's another post, that's one where you'd really need a dose of humility. I believe in volunteering while traveling. I am writing this because to not say so would be monstrous.
Back to the subject at hand: I’ve stopped sightseeing. I’m full of anxiety because I think I’m not traveling but loafing. I’m not fulfilling my social contract. I’m not educating the masses, or myself, or lying hard enough that I’m seeing. I’m very obsessed with my little project, my traveling, and that it is important enough to be anxious over. Whether I am sightseeing or not -- this is important. This is the stuff that life is made of.