I’ve been remiss in reporting about my Argentina trip.
Upon my return, a friend, S, (who also does an annual ASR trip) asked me how it was. I replied, “Good, but not relaxing.”
She responded, “It’s an ASR trip. It’s not really the point for it to be relaxing.”
Her response made me think.
Other people had asked the same question, and I had been giving versions the same answer, “Good, but not relaxing,” a touch humorously, maybe a tinge apologetically— as if the expectation would be that if I went on this big trip, I should return rested and renewed. Or healed in some way. And since I couldn’t say that, I felt my answer was low-key disappointing. This expectation was, of course, something I projected on the people who asked. The only person I can say with certainty might have actually felt that way… is me. But when S said what she did, I quickly recognized there had been a gap in my thinking—
— because a “trip” and a “vacation” are different things. Maybe because we take “vacation time” from normal work to travel, “taking a vacation” has certain connotations. Like a good, successful vacation should be relaxing and fun and easy. I’ve never taken a luxury cruise, or been to an all inclusive resort, but these might seem like the ideal that other people with less time and resources should aspire to match—a complete escape from one’s daily life and freedom from the worries and decisions. And maybe you also learn about other cultures secondarily, but it’s not the primary impetus.
“Traveling” on the other hand, is like living your life in a different place. Though we usually hope for life to be easy, I don’t know that we generally expect it to be, and of course maybe it’s better for ones growth as a person to deal with some things that are hard. Maybe a main point of traveling is discovery; to learn about where and how other people live and navigate the unfamiliar, and then maybe, to imagine what one’s life would be in this different place, once the unfamiliar things had become familiar. Maybe the point of taking a trip—and maybe particular an ASR trip —is to be forced (or given the opportunity) to examine ones perspective. Such examination often leads to change, I guess. And change, as they say, it hard.
So Argentina was trip. It was traveling. Some plans fell through. Some plans came scarily close to falling through, but then didn’t. There were logistical issues, language mishaps, a minor injury. But having come out on the other side of things, I look back and feel like like dealing with those things was ultimately rewarding—an important reminder that I am always learning and can and will deal with whatever comes my way.