February 26, 2008

Where I get philosophical


Yesterday I was writing a travel piece and found myself employing the word destination. It just slipped in but was passable. The trouble was I immediately felt vexed. Dissatisfied. What is it about that word?

In the good old days of Siddhartha or, say, Victorian caravans slaking across vast deserts in stockings and big hats, the word destination meant something.

Hunger, curiosity, lovesickness or fever pushed you forward to meet destiny. You didn’t necessarily have a goal (the source of the Nile or top of Denali). The idea lay at the end of the Road of Unknown. After getting to your destination, you would either meditate into eternal bliss or write beautiful, grieving letters to your beloved sister about the follies of your foresight, the fragrant local spices and viral scourges.

These days the word has been co-opted by the mega resort. First you seek Sizzling Spring Break Destination, eventually followed by the Most Romantic Honeymoon Destination, Fun Family Destination, or (post-separation) Top Ten Spa Destinations.

The purpose of your destination? To pamper yourself. To negate the meaninglessness of daily existence by discovering exotic fruits that go well with vodka (don’t they all?) and a temperature-controlled pool. Basically, you have taken a direct flight here from real life to forget.

But there is a fine line between relaxation and flat-out boredom.

Few have the luxury of traveling like a travel writer, but I’d recommend one thing. Omit the destination from whatever trip you’re going on. Give yourself X number of days to travel a route. Don’t fixate on the finish line. Meet people. Wander. Dawdle. Maybe you’ll make it halfway. This way, there will be no disconnect between you and your destination. You’ll know it when you’ve found it.

1 comment:

Jaqi Holland said...

Hola Carolina,

Great post; I miss reading your writing, so blog more just for me! You make a good point; we should de-emphasize the destination. It reminds me that one of these days I'd like to take a trip that I don't research to death--just go, get lost and discover, maybe even without a (gasp) map...

Jaqi