11 May 2013

Soapbox Saturday: The Oh So Superior Traveler

Saw this on Pinterest...

judge judge judge judge JUDGE.

So anyone who doesn't choose your way of life is materialistic? You have a better grasp on happiness than someone who wants a house or loves collecting books or enjoys fashion? How positive and uplifting you must be to people with this constant judgment hovering around you like a black cloud.

Insulting someone else's choices to justify your own is small. And mean.

Maybe you're a "Girl Gone International" because you have a nomadic spirit. Maybe it's because you like traveling. Maybe you hate belonging to one country. Or maybe you're running away from reality... or the cops. It could be anything!

Whatever the reason, if you're making the choice to "experience" life by traveling because the only other option you see available to you is Materialism, then I suggest you keep traveling because you don't understand the world at all. And I guarantee most of these girls have stationary families and friends they can temporarily invade visit... but would never live because they need to fly off at a moment's notice for another experience like a drug addict looking for a fix. 

Newsflash: Everything-- let me say that a little louder in case you didn't hear me-- EVERYTHING in life is an experience.

From studying abroad to writing a book; from working for the Peace Corps to buying a house-- all are experiences. First apartment? Experience. Music festival? Experience. Getting your seventh tattoo? BOOM! Experience. 

And don't argue about the meme's wording. "Well it doesn't say 'materialism..." NO. You and I both know exactly what it means: "I choose to 'live' by collecting 'experiences' while the rest of you rot away in an unhappy existence surrounded by material goods." Is that so? I have "things" and I have experiences and I'm happy. I know many people who have this same grasp on life. And I've known people who prefer not to leave their town, and don't believe they're missing out on anything because they're happy with their lives. So stop judging them Chick-wearing-a-trendy-outfit(things)-standing-in-the-middle-of-a-wheat-field-who-got-there-via-car(things)-holding-an-umbrella(another thing)-as-a-storm-rolls-in. Anyone else think her next experience is about to be electrocution?

I know home is where the heart is. Having moved a lot myself, being with Michael and Cooper gives me a sense of home even while living in Los Angeles, a city I don't particularly like (but would never judge the people who do like it!!!). Yet I love going back to my parents' place and visiting my grandma's house. My grandma, whose house is filled-- and I mean fucking filled-- with items (or "things" if you will) from around the world after decades of travel. She and my great aunt & uncle have been to all seven continents, and my grandma just returned a couple days ago from another trip to Turkey (apparently she wanted to see the north this time). All those things in her house could never equal the pile of experiences she's stacked up from being a daughter, wife, mother, grandmother, friend, aunt, cousin, traveler, singer... etc etc etc. "Good grief, are you saying people can have both?!"

Yes... yes I am.

Then there's my great grandmother who immigrated from Austria as a child and lived in the same bungalow for over 70 years. When she was in her mid 80's she went to Greece, but overall didn't travel a lot. Great Grandma Young lived and died happy watching her grandchildren and then her great grandchildren grow up. 

Of course the whole concept of "choosing experience over things" is ludicrous and hypocritical because the existence of said things is crucial to the experience. Not following? Say Umbrella Girl wants to see the Sistine Chapel but lives in Australia. Basically-- ignoring the annoying details like paperwork and such-- she first needs to fly across the ocean and various countries to get to Rome, take a car to Vatican City, and then find the chapel (which shouldn't be too hard since it's huge). Once Umbrella Girl arrives at the chapel, she'll admire the handiwork of Michaelangelo and scores of other artists and sculptors that contributed to the overall architecture and artistry, probably by taking pictures thanks to the iPhone Steve Jobs invented. 

There'd be nothing to admire if Michaelangelo preferred Umbrella Girl's version of living instead of portraying the living. If the Wright Brothers were busy "experiencing" instead of "experimenting" she'd never even see Rome. Artists, engineers, musicians, scientists, mathematicians, farmers, etc. create the experiences Umbrella Girl and her group of cohorts spend lifetimes enjoying. Show some gratitude instead of judgment, and stop trying to tell everyone else how to live because-- and this may come as a shock-- there's a good chance plenty of people don't want to be like you. 

Perhaps you think I'm taking this personally. I've experienced (and watched others experience) the condescension from individuals who travel a lot and give me that pitying look for not having been abroad. I used to feel sorry for myself, as if I was the only one left out of an international inside joke. Then I realized that I love my life and am beyond blessed. And it sickens me that people who are supposedly happy "carpe diem-ing" the crap out of life by globe-trotting have this urge to tear other people down for not doing so. Aren't they supposed to be open-minded because they're so damn worldly?

Some may find happiness as eternal nomads, others might need to get the hell out of their country and into one they like better, certain people will pursue dream careers, and there are those striving to give their families a home and the best opportunities possible. And everyone else in between. Happiness is relative so stop belittling someone else's lifestyle because it doesn't match your own. Love and respect others even if you don't understand them.

UPDATE: Just thought of the BEST example: Ellie's Adventure Book in Up. Her husband Carl felt guilty they never had a chance to travel to Paradise Falls (or anywhere) and start the book. However, when Carl opened it up after Ellie passed away, it was filled with memories, adventures they took near their home town-- the zoo, working on their house, etc. Life is the Adventure. That's the point.

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