by Frank Schnittger
Mon Jan 28th, 2008 at 10:15:24 AM EST
Like most of us, I suspect, I often dream of "getting away". It usually involves some travel, sightseeing, connecting with new cultures, but also liberal doses of sun, sea, food, drink, and generally lazing about. The reality is often different. I get bored after a few days of hotel/resort life. There is only so much food and wine you can consume. Sight seeing is great for a while but you don't really connect with different cultures unless you know people in your destination. Pretty soon you find yourself watching CNN and BBC World which you wouldn't dream of watching when at home. You start looking for internet cafes or reading books you could just as well have read at home.
But there is also another pattern which emerges from my trips away: I start to daydream about what it would be like to live in my holiday destination - enjoying the weather full time, buying a holiday apartment and perhaps doing some part time work - e.g. opening an internet café or some such enterprise as I spend so much time on the net anyway. It becomes an exercise in rethinking my life from a "blue skies perspective" as the management consultants like to say.
My conclusion is always the same, or at least has been to date: I'm better off where I am, close to family and friends, and those bits of work which come my way. I get bored after the week and am glad enough to get home, to sleep in my own bed, shake off the dietary excesses, and get back into the social life and routines of a seemingly humdrum existence. Until the next time...
There is only so much musing on The Meaning of Life that you can do as you lie on the beach or go for a walk. Bob Geldof's autobiography is called "Is that it?" and the title seems to sum up the vague sense that all those youthful idealistic dreams have come to naught - or at least what I have now is all I have to show for them - and there is no other universe I where things could have turned out very differently.
I begin to wonder am I the only person who feels about it in this way, and for whom holidays tend to be the venue for doing a rerun of life's key decisions and whether I would make them differently now, if given the chance, and how things might have turned out then. Usually, I come to the conclusion that, on balance, I got most things right - that the risks were on the downside as the economists like to say - and that this IS as good as it gets.
But I would like to hear from you others out there in cyberspace, do you engage in such philosophising, particularly when on holidays, and what conclusions do you reach? Without getting too personal or mawkishly sentimental, has life fulfilled your youthful dreams, was it ever meant to, were they not supposed to be hopelessly unrealistic, and all the more fun for that, or have you had to taper your expectations rapidly downwards in order to make emotional ends meet, so that you border on the cynical when you see today's younger generation indulge in something of the same?
This may seem to be all to much a "mid-life crisis" type of topic, but to be truthful, I have done it all my life, and don't expect to end it any time soon. We all need to take time out, to take a long and considered view of where we have ended up, and on whether we ought not to be considering a radically new departure in our lives, even if the answer is almost always in the negative. So what is your experience? Answers on a post card please, to the great god of wishful thinking in the blue sky...