Knee Jerk Reaction

I have found great joy in observing people’s responses to various things. One big winner comes after I tell them about my South Africa journey. For the record: This journey is a backpacking trip for 7 weeks in South Africa with little to no money, no place to stay and little to no agenda. Obviously it’s easy to understand why people might find that shocking, especially considering between 50 and 60 percent of US citizens have never even left continental US.

The most frequently asked question I get is, “What are you going to do down there?”. Although it is often offered in a mildly sarcastic tone, it’s a respectable question. One might imagine the response following my next comment: “We’ll see, I don’t really have anything planned.”

While at times I’m faced then with a laughable lecture. Something along the lines of, “You’re going across the world for 7 weeks and you don’t even know what your going to do?! Are you insane?? You don’t even know anyone there! You’re going to get kidnapped!!

Those are not the responses I’m interested in, however. The ones that really leave me bewildered and even, at times, sad, are the people that say, “That is going to be an unforgettable trip, I wish I could do that.”

I usually offer a cheap suggestion encouraging them to try. It’s no use. There is something so deeply embedded in their being that tells them, “The very idea of that trip is beyond your reach.” Whether it’s been debt, price tags, busy schedules, fear… etc., I don’t know. I’m at a loss because the interest is there. The spark is there. It’s as though their imagination sends out a desperate flare that can just barely be seen as a flicker in their eyes. What has them so beaten down that it’s so hard to place themselves in a traveler’s shoes.

I can’t figure it out. I want to believe these people will break free of their self-induced paralysis and experience the richness of life. I want to give them the benefit of the doubt but I can’t. All I see are people that will likely never participate in anything other than the routine that was set into effect long before their existence. My pessimism prevails.

If you feel like you are even a little bit like one of those people, prove me wrong. I dare you…

Published in: on 24/05/2010 at 11:28 pm  Leave a Comment  
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