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  • Writer's pictureHu Eliot Young

Enlightened travel versus entitled travel

There's nothing like a rhetorical question or using the Socratic method to bring out one's insecurities (read: paranoia), is there? (Trick question).

Travel, whether for educational, service oriented or other reasons, can be so exhilarating... As Chesterfield (I think) put it, (okay, I paraphrase), there's nothing like getting bumps and bruises on new parts of the royal behind to make one appreciate what one already has while broadening one's horizons.

So, what kind of travel stirs your drink or hits the right chords most frequently? If it's to

some trendy, new discotheque, out on a beach or hedonistic resort, then this article is not for you. If, on the other hand, it is to capture (or attempt to capture) a special place at a special time, to broaden your horizons via sights, cites and insights from another part of the globe, welcome to the paradox of this form of paradise. May this help you on your journey!

During your travels, have you been on a flight, in a hotel lobby, on a tour or in a restaurant where someone loses their emotional equilibrium and, with all due respect to Stendhal and the syndrome named for him, where the grandeur and vastness of the artistry so overwhelms and fatigues, that one plunges into disarray, discombobulation and distress, losing mental mojo and the capacity to interact or react? Have you been that person? (Okay, it's another rhetorical question). From one ordinary man to the next, I confess to acts and omissions which can't be taken back and have left others wondering. I have also witnessed loved ones and strangers acting or omitting from acting in a manner which most assuredly would have been their routine closer to home. Where an aisle seat on the plane isn't good enough because there is a smaller, shorter person there, who got the exit row or was bumped up to business class and it wasn't you; where no hotel room is quite good enough... Yes, it was an upgrade to a suite but it's not a room with a view, etc etc.

But enlightened travel comes with risks, we are transplanted outside our comfort zone and regular milieu and it is from such crisis (read: opportunities) that we discover more about ourselves and those around us. Remember, the Italian city states and their intrigue gave us the Renaissance, the rebirth, the beauty of the ages whereas the calm and neutrality a couple of hundred kilometres to the north, in the cantons of Switzerland, gave us the cuckoo clock. Glass half full versus half empty... Happy to have an aisle seat but then wants the exit row. Happy to be in a five star hotel but then, wants upgrade. Forever "evering" dissatisfied.

So, how to change ...

1) let the journey become part of the adventure. Rather than relying upon a destination to provide all of the value of the travel, let the travel to the destination be part of the enjoyment in all its quirky, crazy, queasy ways. As my father used to say, "happiness is more often remembered than experienced."

Sometimes the things we look upon mostly fondly and with greatest nostalgia are those incidents which created the most angst, anger and frustration. The slow food movement was created as an antidote to - and the antithesis of - fast food where the idea of eating was reduced to a secondary and supplementary role to the more "important" tasks such as work and study that consumed us. The Italians got it right; slow food and the whole philosophy of taking one's time, allows one to absorb and enjoy at a much deeper and more profound level.

2) try letting the person in the line beside you, go before you, or the person in the seat next to you, have that extra space, the way you would willingly give it to your own child or other loved one. Turn the one whom you view as a competitor for the arm rest or priority entry to a museum/art gallery/you name it, into a friend. Turn the other cheek and see what happens. Expand your soul! As my father also said regularly, "we grow so soon old and so late wise." Giving things "up" can create amazing conversational opportunities and an enhanced social environment. Plus it makes you feel like you have some control rather than being controlled. And we can all use a little more control over our lives and the slings and arrows that come when we're least expecting them.

Feel free to add to the list and pleasant travels!

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