It happened every time.
I would be traveling through the world’s mountains, seas or cities and would have complete clarity as to what I should, and even more importantly, could be doing with my life.
I could, I thought in these moments, have the same level of enthusiasm I have for strangers at home that I have while traveling; I could make the small effort it would take to go to that restaurant, that museum, that event or that place near my house. In short, I could (and “would” as I told myself in those moments) do at home what I did while traveling – be engaged, open and interacting with the world around me. I mean, after all, I was doing it with a respectable level of success in a remote African village – I sure as hell could do it at home, right?
Then, two weeks after I returned and the jet lag wore off, what was I doing? The exact same things I was prior to ever knowing that village existed. I was bored, again, and to stave it all off I started planning my next vacation.
With time I started asking myself this, why is traveling and seeing the world an activity that can only be performed when I am a certain number of miles from my front door? And why is that although 60 million people travel to Colorado every year, did I have to leave it to be “traveling”? And what was I actually trying to do – see the world or escape from the routine? And if it was trying to escape from routine, then why the hell didn’t I just change the routine?
And with time I took the answers to these questions to heart. It is not that my love of seeing the world beyond Colorado has changed. It is just that life is infinitely more interesting when you behave as a tourist – exactly the way you would anywhere else in the world – in your own town
I no longer just meet my friends at the “normal place” for drinks or dinner. I do what I would while traveling, I spend the five to fifteen minutes finding somewhere that looks interesting, that I have never been, that I want to explore.
I also realized thinking I “knew” Colorado, a state that is 104,000 square miles (New Zealand is 103,000) was simply idiotic and as such I started a small and growing pile of books to support my hometown tourism. For day, weekend or even afternoon trips we pull them out and do exactly what we would do while traveling – find something new and interesting to visit.
We also slowed our world down. Instead of driving we walk and ride our bikes frequently. Small detours are more likely to be discovered when moving less quickly and are far more likely to be participated in when you don’t have to find or pay for a parking spot.
In the end, I decided to look at it this way – Robert Frost was absolutely correct about the road less traveled. He was for me at least. But perhaps another way to think about it is this – a fresh perspective on a road you have previously traveled can, and most certainly will, make all the difference.
The Books I Use to Find Places to Go & Things to Do in Denver & Colorado