I was taking a bus last weekend to a town not too far from here. It’s in another prefecture, and they have a really good museum there. Theyâ€™ve taken five hundred or so of the most famous paintings from all time, and reproduced them using some high tech ceramic imaging. (Gotta love Japanese technology!) Supposedly they are completely weather proof and everything, so they will last two thousand years or so. So if mankind decides to destroy ourselves through global warming or nuclear holocaust, at least the aliens will find all of our best art work when they come scavenging in a thousand years or so.
So as I was riding this bus, I was reading through this guidebook. When I travel, I usually donâ€™t like taking tours or planning my trip out extensively, like some people do. In fact, all the times’ I’ve traveled overseas, I’ve only booked the first one of two nights in advance over the internet, and after that I sort of make it up as I go along. It’s much more fun that way. So I usually read whatever travel books are available, get some information online of what I can see there. That way when I get there, I kind of have an idea of what is available, and based on my mood, and the weather, and whatever else happens, I can plan my trip accordingly. When I came to Japan for the first time, I was in one city (I honestly don’t remember which one) and I was deciding on what city to visit next, and I made my decision by taking a poll in the bar I happened to be drinking in at the time. That’s really a fun way to travel.
When you really look at some of the decisions you make, most people would be surprised at how many of them are really made by taking other peoples opinions into consideration. When people spend their valuable time and money on packaged tours, as is common in Japan and in other countries in Asia, they are pretty much letting somebody else make ALL their decision for them. Which is good in some ways, because it allows them to completely relax and just enjoy their trip without worrying about what’s coming next. It’s good when you can release anxiety like that.
So as I was flipping through what information I could find about my destination, I started chatting with the girl sitting next to me. As I turns out, she was from the town I was going to. Only instead of being excited to be going there, she was a little bit depressed. She was going back home after a long week of vacation in the city where I live. And like most people, as I’m sure you can imagine, she wasn’t looking forward to going back to the daily grind. Coming home after a vacation can be a depressing thing indeed.
It’s interesting when two people can look at the same thing and feel completely different interpretations of it. There’s that old story about two guys in prison, and one guy looked out the window and always look down at the ground, and was always depressed, while his cellmate would always look up at the starts and feel inspired and uplifted. The guy that looked up at the stars went on to win the Nobel Prize in Bio-Medical Economic Literature, while the guy that looked in the dirt all time turned out to be the guy that invented telemarketing. Or something like that.
But once I told her I was going on vacation, and asked her opinion on the fun things to do in her town, she got a little less sad, and a little more excited. Although she had to work the next day, so she wouldn’t be able to show me around personally, she seemed to find herself in a much better mood after telling me all the cool things about her city, that only a few moments ago she was dreading returning to. I guess putting things into a different perspective can really brighten your mood if you want it to.
And sometimes when you can do just that, you’ll be surprised to find that some of things around you will take on a whole new meaning when you allow yourself to see something that has always been there for the first time.