Your Destination Can Wait

Nov 2, 2014 by

          Many people rush their travels. They check off places on lists just to say they’ve been. They can’t remember the stories without the pictures. They use “might as well” a lot: “I’m in Paris, so I might as well see it all. And since Paris is in France, I might as well tour the country. And because France is in Europe, I might as well run around the continent.” I understand the logic. People want to see what they can while they can, because might-as-wellers worry that they won’t be back. Ironically, they see little more than Google could have shown them. They proceed from one prescribed monument to another too quickly to notice the in between, even though it’s often more beautiful than the destinations planned. In attempt to make effective use of their time, they miss the charm of travelling slowly.

          Travelling slowly doesn’t mean going away for a long time. You could go away for a day and travel slowly. You could go away for months and travel like it’s a race. Your time is irrelevant, because it’s not about optimization of time; it’s about pace. Regardless of the length of time spent travelling, skipping the to-see list or at least loosening the itinerary allows room to experience what couldn’t have been planned. For example, last weekend, Olivia visited Paris for four days to celebrate her birthday. As we approached the entrance to the Louvre on her first night, we came across two street performers. They were sassy and playful, and they had amazing chemistry. (If they’re not in love, they’re at least sleeping together. There are no other options.) Instead of proceeding straight to the Louvre, Olivia and I sat to watch them for over an hour. Like me, Olivia doesn’t travel on an itinerary. We ended up walking into the museum with little more than half an hour to close and couldn’t care less. Had Les Aristo’ (short and French for “The Aristocrats,” an ironic play on their lack of money) continued playing, we would have skipped the Louvre altogether.

          Although there were other people that stopped to watch, most passed Les Aristo’ in a hurry to the Louvre. One woman was speed walking, looking at everything through her phone as she tried to capture the museum grounds. She was moving too fast to hear any more than a seven-second clip of the music, if she was listening at all. Sure, she probably got her selfie with the Mona Lisa like everyone else at the Louvre that night, but she missed something unique. We do that when we rush – not just through cities travelled, but through life. We check off accomplishments on lists just to say we’ve done them. We can’t remember the routes without the plans. We use “might as well” a lot: “I started a useless degree, so I might as well finish it. I’m a university graduate, so I might as well enter the corporate world that supposedly appreciates it. I’m on the ladder, so I might as well go up.” We proceed from one prescribed milestone to another too quickly to notice the in between, even though it’s often more beautiful than the destinations planned.

Happiness Tip: Travel slowly.

 

 
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