Wednesday, 29 October 2014

Do you keep coming back, or do you seek the new?

Some people will holiday in the same place, year in, year out. Others will seek new places to visit. Some people love watching the same films, reading the same books, over and over, gaining new insights with each subsequent communion. Others say "been there, done that." Whether you're young, old or middle-aged, one thing unites us all - our lives are getting shorter, not longer. What then, is the optimum strategy? Run around the world trying to see everything before you die - or revisit special places time and time again?

It occurred to me earlier this year that since moving to Jeziorki in 2002, I've hardly been anywhere other than Poland or the UK. Since starting this blog in 2007, I've been to Spain and Ireland, in both cases on business, in both cases for two-three days. I've travelled extensively around the UK (with the exception of the South-West of England, Northern Ireland or the Scottish Highlands). I've travelled extensively around Poland (with the exception of Szczecin, which I last visited in 1995).

Holidays? Llyn Peninsula, North Wales, 13 times since 1993. Films? The last two films I saw (Grand Hotel Budapest and two-times Oscar winner Kathryn Bigelow's directoral debut, The Loveless) I've seen before. Music? The last three bits of music I listened to were albums I first got to know in the 1970s - Roxy Music by Roxy Music, The Ramones' It's Alive and a Steely Dan greatest hits LP.

Do you favour the familiar - or the unfamiliar? Does familiarity have a different effect on different people?

Is my life dull? Stale? Don't think so. I'm happy in that with which I'm comfortable and familiar, I prefer depth to breadth in terms of personal preferences, although when it comes to general knowledge, it's the opposite - I have a great breadth in terms of scope, though only enough to last eight minutes in conversation - enough to convince my interlocutor that I'm a great all-round individual, before we both lose interest in the matter.

A life in balance then? I have no interest in visiting Africa, the Middle East or the Far East. Or Latin America (other than Chile). North America certainly (with a Cat. A. driving licence though), Scandinavia certainly. Rest of Europe, should the opportunity arise.

"Bucket lists" are a recent craze - a long list of things to do or see before one kicks the bucket. For many this is an excuse for over-indulgence at the expense of one's bank account or indeed the environment. If I had such a list, a several-year-long Backroads USA experience on a 1950 Harley Davidson HydraGilde would open and close it.

This would be a 'keep on coming back' event - seeking out places I have dreamed of or had flashbacks to in many anomalous memory incidents over the entire span life - flashbacks; Bowling Green, Kentucky; Duluth, Minnesota; Zig-Zag, Oregon. Away from big cities, highways and tourist traps, this trip would be to seek connections, explanations, maybe...

This time last year:
In praise of Retro design

This time This time two years ago:
First snowfall in Warsaw

This time three years ago:
Of cycles, economic and human

This time four years ago:
Why didn't I read this before? Grapes of Wrath

This time five years ago:
Małopolska from the train

This time six years ago:
Grading ul. Poloneza


AndrzejK said...

What worries me is that I am re reading a lot of books I last read 25 years ago and more. Some I can recall whilst others trigger no memory at all. I clearly had read them as the spines are creased! Selective memory or lack of attnetion when reading the first time round?

Sigismundo said...

I've spent several years of my life on the road. There are still plenty of places I'd like to see, but increasingly they are ones with fewer people and more open spaces.

DC said...

Just curious - why only Chile in South America?

Michael Dembinski said...

@ Andrzej K. With me, it's anecdotes from yesteryear that either a) my interlocutor, who was present at the scene remembers that I was there, while I don't or b), I remember, but my interlocutor doesn't. Obozy harcerskie were a bit that way!

@ Sigismundo - absolutely agree. Calm and serenity must prevail.

@ DC - At a pinch, Argentina too. But nowhere further north - too hot and humid.

Sigismundo said...

To Chile and Argentina, I would add Bolivia, or at least the high-altitude parts thereof, namely the Altiplano, up at 3000m+. It never gets too hot up there, but you need a few days at least to adjust to the reduced air pressure.

The Uyuni salt-lake is among the most spectacular places on earth. It also happens to be one of the world's largest reserves of Lithium, and is quite likely to be have it's pristine condition destroyed by mining within the next few years. Go before it's too late!

Oh, and Uyuni also houses a train cemetery. You'd love it.

DC said...

I think Sigismunsdo's got it right! There are some sweet places, hot and high that could suit you, Michael. Maybe even Cusco.

If you do SCL, please don't skip EZE. Both fascinating places, but definitely worth the comparison in what makes them different.

To answer your post, I keep coming back for the new. But in terms of travel, I don't necessarily think of it as breadth at the expense of depth. I went to Tblisi last year and _loved_ it. At the risk of sounding too familiar, I think you would love it too, Michael. But I think it's for many of the reasons you love WAW. Plus the Georgian food and other stuff. But for what you would recognize...

I spent a month in Ukraine this year. I think I could say the same.