Sunday, November 3, 2013

FTTN: Buenos Aires - "Trip mode"

I want to write now about one of the most important and influential phenomenons that brings about the pleasure in traveling. Simply put, you enjoy a lot of the things you do and see while traveling because you're traveling. This may sound stupid or self-evident, but bare with me. My claim is that the fact that you're traveling, and constantly looking for new experiences and new sights, opens up your mind and your eyes. You come to expect to have fun, to expect things to be interesting and peculiar and beautiful and noteworthy. The same bird, the same field next to the highway, the same sunset, all of which you notice, enjoy and value while traveling, might have gone unnoticed in the pace and routine of your everyday life. I'm not talking about the big stuff: volcanoes, glaciers and huge cathedrals. Those, while usually the "official" reason to go to a far-off village or hike for a couple of days, often take a back seat to other, more unexpected and surprising, if more "mundane" experiences. It's happened to me many times, that things I enjoy and remember the most were not really noteworthy in the usual sense of the word. Making coffee in the valley before heading up to a lookout point is sometimes more pleasant than the view up top, a conversation with a restaurant owner outside the national park with the amazing waterfalls can be the highlight of the day, and the bus drive somewhere was often more interesting for me than the place itself. That's where the mind-switch, or what I call "trip mode", comes in.
The expectation to enjoy yourself, to be impressed or simply to have a pleasant time is often a self-fulfilling prophesy. And included in this claim is the opposite one: many impressive, noteworthy and beautiful things pass by us unnoticed on our everyday life, and we don't assign any meaning to them even though we could (maybe should...). If you don't look for the beauty in something, you might never find it, no matter how close to you it is. One of my biggest goals in life is to achieve this kind of mind-switch, to be able to turn it on and off at will. If I could isolate this feeling, this predisposition towards the outside world around me and the events that I observe or experience, and apply it at all times and places, I think that would lead to a full, happy and satisfying life. Both your life and the world (as you experience it, at least) would be much more beautiful. I am sure that there are people who live their life, or at least most of it, like that. Seeing the world through rosy glasses, enjoying the little things, positive energies, it's all in your head (a very common Hebrew expression); they're all different ways to describe what I'm talking about. 
Of course I don't think this mindset is unique to traveling, but I do think traveling has a tendency to bring it out. But every good thing has its limits, and I felt it a few times, when I became "overtraveled". The constant movement and change start weighing on you, and they themselves become a kind of routine, and you lose the sense of wonder. I can think of at least 4 times when that happened to me, the first of them coming at the time I wrote this note in Buenos Aires. And in every case I ended up staying in one place for a relatively long time. The continuity, the routine and the calmness of knowing that the next day will be similar to the previous one become the exception instead of the norm, and, at least for a while, attain that same feeling of novelty and not-necessarily-explainable enjoyment. 
Until you feel you need to start moving again, of course. And on and on it goes.