Sunday, September 6, 2009

And Now Back to Our Regular Programming

As you may recall from my last vacation, I believe that a proper vacation description can serve as fodder for multiple posts. In fact, last time around, I wrote a half-dozen entries chronologically following my trip back to Saskatchewan for a wedding, and, with one thing and another, never actually got around to the part where I, you know, went to the wedding. Oopsie. So, this time, I'm not sticking to strict chronology, but blogging about the parts of Toronto and the trip itself that interested me most. Which means we're starting with a philosophical discussion of vacations in general. But for those who don't really care about that and just want to hear about the trip, here's a quick sketch for now: long car ride, walking, libraries (yeah, I went to a lot of libraries. It was MY vacation, dammit.), fine dining, veggie chili, sushi, baby, cats, CN tower, U of T campus, Monopoly, Cranium, All My Best Friends are Superheroes, Honest Ed's, bookstores, photo tour, and Glen or Glenda.

On to navel-gazing! I don't have a lot of vacationing in my past There's a few reasons for this. First, there's the general social ineptitude issue that plagued my late teenage and early adulthood (what? Ask someone if they want to go on a vacation? Or if I could go with them? Isn't that terribly presumptuous? And I'd hate to have to force someone to say no--think of how awkward that would be for them. Yeah, issues.). A second, nearly as odd, reason comes from my aversion to paying for experiences--why should I pay to go somewhere else when I can relax right here? And finally, there's the completionist issue: I like to completely finish something before I move on to something else. It's one of the reasons I like video games, I imagine--you play, you complete the achievements, you move on. Under that logic, why would I bother going to Toronto when there is so much in Blank left to see?

Honestly, with all of those factors at play, it's amazing that I ever left Saskatchewan at all.

But I did leave, and buried somewhere in the reason why I left is the point to all this. You go to new places, you experience new things, because you don't know how they'll affect you. You can have some idea what the effect will be; travelling to Disneyworld and travelling to Afghanistan don't really carry the same set of expectations, for example. But how you'll come out of it, and what you'll come out of it with is undetermined. To use a vastly incorrect metaphor, it's like your life is a science experiment. Your desired effect is a greater level of happiness, and when you go on vacation, you turn some elements of your life--surroundings, location, culture, etc--into variables, and some you hold constant--yourself, your values, your travelling companions. While I didn't take any travelling companions, I did stay with people I knew while there, so they served as something constant, or, at least, something familiar in a new context. Of course, the whole metaphor falls apart pretty quickly, because your happiness is part of yourself and your values, and changing the former will probably alter the latter two elements.

Additionally, I wouldn't say I was particularly changed by the vacation, which is another way that life is not like a scientific experiment (or a video game)--evaluating the results of an experience is more complicated than that. On the other hand, it did disrupt my personal inertia, and reminded me that new things aren't bad things. So maybe there was a measurable change after all.

Next time: things that actually happened.

Later Days.

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