More Jumbled Thoughts

I wish I could speak of my “travels” with as much wonder and dreaminess as most people seem to. Maybe it’s just the material I tend to go for, but it always just seems that everyone and their dog has a severe case of “wanderlust”:

wan·der·lust/ˈwändərˌləst/
Noun:  A strong desire to travel: “a man consumed by wanderlust”.

(Heh, I’ve been using a lot of dictionary definitions in my posts lately. It’s a habit that I thought had been kicked in middle school when it was determined to be a cliche, easy-way-out kind of hook, but apparently not. Forgive me.)

There’s this new webseries on Youtube called exactly that: Wanderlust. Those who know what I’m talking about will laugh at my vanity, those who don’t: I beg of you not to dig any further than the embedded videos below.

The “show” follows two girls (let’s just keep it simple, shall we?) as they go about their adventures traveling the world. Now the ironic part is that they hit two of the cities (or perhaps more, I don’t remember and don’t feel like scrolling through pages of videos to check) just a couple weeks before I did, so I had their videos for reference as I seemingly followed in their footsteps.

But the thing is, I can’t pretend to have had quite the same reactions as they seem to have had. Here’s just a few soundbites from one of the videos:

…because half the time, you’re just breathless in awe.

…it was silent, it was quiet, and I couldn’t breathe for a few seconds

…you see the sistine chapel in textbooks…this is real beauty, this is amazing. I was just like, jawdropped.

…this visit so far has been so surreal.

…the one word that describes everything I have seen in the vatican is “epic”

…it inspired me so much to appreciate art more, and most importantly, live life to the fullest. It’s amazing.

Now the thing is, these girls have garnered a lot of haters since starting this webseries, and I would hate to seem like I’m the latest to join in the loud chorus of protests. And I’m not, really. I’m using their videos as an example only because they are so recent and easily accessible, but turn on any travel show or open any magazine and you’re met with “breathtaking views” and “mindblowing beauty”. Maybe not those exact words, but still, words meant to describe the indescribable.

But the only feelings I felt when looking at any of this stuff was just quiet self-reproach and embarrassment.

There I was looking at some of what could be the masterpieces of modern history and all I could do was appreciate that it was pretty. “Breathless in awe”? Hardly, though St. Peter’s was nice and big. Size I can own to, beauty and the mastery of the artist, I had no idea.

In the past week I’ve seen the Parthenon, the Sistine Chapel, the Last Supper, and  to me, seemingly countless other monuments, squares, and pieces of artwork that I’ve studied and read about in textbooks and travel books. Places that should, according to Discovery and all these other people, take my breath away and leave me in some state of disrepair, wondering the worth of my own existence.

Well, maybe I got the second part down.

Am I really that far behind in developing my sense of culture that I can’t appreciate the Sistine Chapel for anything more than a hard-worked piece of art? A beautiful one, of course, and one that I’ve imagined him painting on his back many a time when I had to read The Pope’s Ceiling for Mac all those years ago (is that even accurate?), but with all due respect to Michelangelo, I can’t really tell the difference between his ceiling and that other piece of art on the wall.

No offense intended, as if my insignificant opinion could inflict any.

Nothing I’ve seen in the past week, which is arguably more history and more culture than I’ve come into contact with in the last four years combined, has really rendered me speechless. Or inspired me to do anything besides pay more attention to the stuff I read about so maybe the next time I go to something like this I won’t be so empty headed and ashamed of it.

I feel like it’s one of those truths that no one dares to say, like how Chandler hates dogs – who hates puppies? What kind of mutant could have the heart to hate puppies? But the truth of the matter is that Chandler, in all his Chandler glory, hates puppies and I, in all my lack of Justina glory, have no idea what’s going on when people all around me are gasping in awe and astonishment at a piece of artwork that to me just looks big and pretty.

It’s been a depressing sort of week, I think, in more ways than one. I’ve come to two conclusions about…life, I suppose (in the least pompous way you can imagine me saying so), in the time I’ve been away from home. And if you’re here, I’m assuming that you have some sort of mild, aloof interest in what I have to say, and though I cannot fathom why…here goes.

  1. As much as I hate to admit it, traveling is really much better done with company. And,
  2. I know nothing, and in around 80 years or so, when I pass into whatever comes after this lifetime, I will still know nothing.

And though the first is more an infraction of my personal beliefs and what I hold to be important, the second is just a devastating realization that will never change, no matter how much I try to amend it.

Let’s deal with the lighter of the two first, shall we?

I’ve said before that whilst traveling one can only appreciate fully one thing – either the company or the surroundings. And at the time I hadn’t made much of a conclusion, just stating some sort of half-formed observation about those around me. The thing is though, as soon as I realized the second, the answer to the first was quite self-evident. It is no wonder that the past week has been just shy of awful. I can’t say that I didn’t appreciate the chance to see things that I’ve always…well, to be honest, things that I’ve always felt I should see, not necessarily wanted to…call me uncultured all you want, but this blog is about what I think, right? And I can’t say that I will ever regret taking this trip, but it hasn’t been a good one, not really.

Without rehashing all my issues with traveling, I’ll just sum it up and say that being completely rootless is not as great a feeling as one would have originally assumed. Or perhaps it was just me. Not having constant companions, though probably a relief if those companions aren’t the best, is at best quiet and at worst quite lonely. And though the very thought of that goes against my (or what I would like to be my) general character, it is unfortunately a truth that after ten days by myself, I can’t seem to shake so very easily.

But you see, once one accepts the fact (and yes, it is a fact) that one will be equally as knowledgeable about the world at the end of life as the beginning of it, then it’s obvious that of the two options – appreciating either the company or the surroundings – only one could be logically prevailed upon. Because you see, the thing is, there will simply be no way in which someone will be knowledgeable about everything. I surely don’t have to argue this point any further, as it should be acknowledged without much fanfare.

Though what I feel must be addressed is the disappointing nature of such a sentiment. I’m twenty, but just barely so – fresh out of the safety of the silliness of being a teenager and thinking that you always know what’s best, and that the world is just being oblivious to your best judgment and understanding of, well, everything. I don’t mean to congratulate myself on successfully exiting that phase of life, as I’m sure when I’m not thinking so clearly, I still do manage to convince at least my subconscious that I’m right, I know what I’m doing, and no one can tell me otherwise.

It’s a fault of youth, I believe, though I don’t have the age nor wisdom to say that with conviction.

What I do mean to say, however, is that once the curtain has been pulled back, so to speak, just the sheer amount of knowledge that is to be had in this world is so staggering (and see, this is what I would call epic) so as to chase the less zealous (such as myself) back into the confines of comfort and ignorance.

And though math is by no means my strong suit, the only thing I can think of to compare is adding 1 + 1 + 1, in hopes of attaining any numerical value that is comparable to infinity. And though I must interrupt my own train of thought to say that human knowledge is by no means infinite, it is, compared to my own speck of understanding of the world, large enough to be compared. And when one tries comparing his own knowledge to all truths of the world, well, then. I don’t believe my (lack of) powers of expression are enough.

Though I hope no one is misled to think that I have since deemed acquiring any sort of knowledge at all a less worthwhile cause, since there seems to be, in my eyes at least, no way of improving one’s position in life no matter how much is learned. On the contrary, I do quite believe that though adding 1 + 1 + 1 + 1 will never quite get us to infinity, every 1 added on to the one before is at least one more, and that one more is always what I will strive for.

And if anyone got that, lol, congratulations, because I don’t even want to read back on it and try to figure out whether I had meant what I said and said what I meant.

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