Posted by: 1of10boyz | January 5, 2014

Tourists


I was bored the other day and had read enough of the news to become just a little depressed. I decided that I would check into the world of the blogosphere. The nice thing about having a blog is that sometimes you can just go to the blog reader and it will fill up the screen with a bunch of stuff from other people that you may or may not have read before. Sometimes I like to read stuff from people that I haven’t read before but who like the same blogs that I do. I just kind of randomly pick a face from the rows of pictures of bloggers that like something I like. It was one of those days.

I was happy to find something that reinforced something I had been thinking about lately. The writer, Snottingblack, had a list of 20 things she offered as advice. The one that sparked my mind was this one: “Don’t be ashamed of being a tourist. It’s what you are and you don’t have to hide from any one.”

I liked it because I have learned over the past several years that I really shouldn’t go anywhere without a camera. Sure it is nice to be able to just take your smart phone out and snap a shot here and there but I am talking about a camera that lets you really reach out and touch someone without them knowing it; were talking 180-210 mm kind of touching. There is something really nice about having the SLR with you so that you can really get the photo that defines the experience or the moment. And nothing really says tourist like an SLR with a telephoto lens.

“The World Tourism Organization defines tourists as people ‘traveling to and staying in places outside their usual environment for not more than one consecutive year for leisure, business and other purposes’.”

Now, I admit that I am one that is a little (ok, maybe a lot) conscious of how I look in public. I really don’t like to be the guy that everyone is looking at. I don’t like to be the guy that everyone is taking pictures of. I want to just blend in; I want to be there but not the reason to be there if you know what I mean. I am happy being in a crowd IF I am just one of the nameless that gets to sit back and watch the rest of the mass do their thing. I don’t want to do or be something that gets the focus. That isn’t me. Having that SLR with the telephoto lens on it in a crowd of locals screams TOURIST. It is the same for the bus loads of Japanese or Chinese tourists that roll into the cities of Western Wyoming with their SLRs taking pictures of everything around them; TOURISTS.

What I have been thinking the past few months is there is something special about BEING a tourist. A tourist is seeing something for the first time or seeing it with the wonder of new eyes. That is an awesome feeling, the wonder and amazement and newness of discovery. What I have begun to learn and to appreciate from my experience here in China is that I don’t ever really want to lose that feeling, here or at home. I want to continue to see the same thing over and over again without it losing its wonder.

How can we approach our lives with the wonder and awe? Can we live our lives with that excitement that comes with seeing something for the first time even though we have seen it hundreds maybe even thousands of times? I think we can but we have to try to do it. We have to learn to appreciate each experience as being unique and different than the last one and when we do that we will find that it is indeed different than the last one.

Everything we do is unique and likely not exactly like it was when we have done it previously. The people we meet may all be old friends, family, spouses, and acquaintances we have known for many years but even they are different each day we meet them. How different would our experience be if we spent the time to care about that relationship and to give it the attention it deserved as if we were getting to know each for the first time? Would we ever have someone think that we were taking them for granted were we to meet them and deal with them in the attitude of wonder and awe? Likely not.

I think that I will spend less time worrying about not looking like a tourist and not acting like a tourist. I want to see the wonder of things as if I am seeing them for the first time. I want to see the uniqueness of the moment, the wonder of things for what they are. I want to have those I interact with know that I am not taking them for granted, that I appreciate having them in my life. I want to see and capture the moments of being a tourist on film (ok, digital pictures aren’t on film). I want to capture that moment so that I can appreciate how things really don’t stay the same even when they seem to. I want to be ok looking like and acting like a tourist even when I am in surroundings that are as comfortable as my home. Maybe then I will appreciate more fully the things that I do have and the people that are part of my life. I will be able to slow down and recognize how lucky I really am. I will be able to see and feel the wonder of life as it is happening to me.

I want to be happy to be a tourist in my own life; maybe I will then be able to see those things that the tourist sees and really appreciate them for what they are. I think that when I can be happy as a lifelong tourist I will be able to realize that in the grand scheme of things that my life really is just a short vacation where I am out to prove that I can walk by faith and live my life as a loving Heavenly Father asked me to. And just like the tourists we are so used to seeing, I don’t need to understand why everything works the way it does, nor do I need to try and change it because I think I know a better way; I just need to observe and learn. When it comes right down to it, this life as a tourist has some pretty important things we are supposed to do, see, and learn. I want the memories of this time to be filled with great stories and adventures that will be appreciated in what comes next. I am pretty certain that the little adventure we are having here is much like a 3-day weekend in the eternities of life, it would make for a tragic eternity to mess this up and not see and do the things that really matter and make a difference.

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