Choose your own adventure

Sometimes in my travels, when I’m going to, am in, or have already been to a place where friends have already been, I receive (very well meaning) exhortations to “go see this” or “go look at that”, as do most people when they are traveling. I’m quite guilty of this myself. Even the other day I was telling someone what to do when she goes to China later this year.

I also find that when I revisit a place, I often try to seek out a similar experience to my previous one – particularly if that experience was great.

I’m not sure how other people find it, but I find that, while sometimes the friends give handy advice, generally I’m left disappointed or underwhelmed. Obviously they had a great time here. Why shouldn’t I? The ‘repeat performance’ attempts are usually even worse (as anyone I dragged around Singapore to long closed entertainment districts could attest to…).

What I’m learning the more I travel, is how important it is to let your own head and heart lead the way. Advice is a good thing, it can start you off in the right direction and lead to some great times, but if it’s not working, it’s good to be able to tell yourself that maybe your experience is going to be a different one, and move on.

I have had some of the most amazing times of my life when I’ve struck out by myself, followed no plans and got a little lost – sometimes physically, often mentally. These are the times I’ve also forged friendships that, while they aren’t necessarily my best friends, they are nevertheless lifelong friends who I stay in touch with and always seek out when I return. My friend Paul Welch said of these types of friends “I will always keep a seat for them at the table round my heart”. I like that.

So now I don’t worry so much if I haven’t experienced what everyone else has. I’m trying to approach each new chapter of my life as something I’m writing, not something I’m reading.

May 2008 Derek Wilson

~ by Derek Wilson on April 4, 2009.

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