Can’t be sure which.
Lying awake last night before the nightcap kicked in, I asked myself a question that was entirely new to me. What things did I especially value that I needed to go travelling overseas to obtain. What goods, sights, foods, art, landscapes, or experiences were precious to me? What must I plan for?
I reviewed my childhood in North America and my two adult visits to Europe – and enumerated good things about them. Then I compared that list to what I have about me in my own home, suburb, city, state, and country…and was amazed to find that there are no overweening need for overseas travel.
I cannot see the teeming streets of Barcelona or Beijing right now because they teem with the latest variant of the Covid virus. Ditto New York, Rome, Rio De Janeiro and many other places…but I never wanted to go to any of them ever before. Now is no different.
I cannot travel to the spots in Western Canada where I lived as a child and find my past…but I have not wanted to do so for 55 years. Now is no different.
I have never seen the tropical hell of the Amazon or the frozen hell of Siberia or the human hell of Africa. Do I want to go to hell now…?
This is somewhat disappointing, if I consider myself in light of the modern Instagramming traveller. I’ve been told I should be desperate not to miss out and that I should be chafing at the bit for some way to circumvent the law and go to the forbidden places. I must have My Rights!
Well, actually I am exercising a right that is far closer to reality than anything that can be scrawled on a cardboard placard…I’m exercising my right to self protection – by staying away from the plague-ridden. And my right to be content and tranquil in the face of social and advertising pressure.
I have read Voltaire, and admire his turn of mind. And I find I can willingly do as he suggests – tend my own garden with pleasure.