Tangential Tuesdays #59

Travel Musings...

Hi. Writing this from a hostel Rome.

By the time you read this, I’ll likely be somewhere over the Atlantic ocean… or with any luck - back home in San Francisco!

At this point in the trip, my friends have already started their journey home and my travel muscle is sufficiently stimulated (for now). I’m more than happy for the excuse to take a night off from exploration and spend some time musing and reflecting on the nonstop onslaught of fun I’ve experienced over the past 10 days.

Some thoughts in no particular order:

What role should travel play in our pursuit of a good life?

This is a question I’ve been thinking about a lot. Everyone is traveling these days. And everyone is posting about it on instagram. And why shouldn’t they? It’s never been cheaper or easier.

“Buy experiences, not things” is the common refrain.

Travel is rewarded with social status in a way that is puzzling to me. People are proud of how many countries they have traveled to. Many people love talking about all of the time and money they have invested into traveling.

But why? In many ways - I think travel is no different than other pleasure-seeking activities: scrolling social media, pornography, eating delicious foods that are terrible for us. That’s not to say that all of these activities should be avoided, but they should probably not be the end goal.

But for some reason, society doesn’t place travel into that pleasure-seeking bucket. And some of that is for good reason! I (and I’m sure many other people) would say they’ve learned a lot from travel.

That said - I suspect if people are honest with themselves (myself included) they would find that a relatively small part of their time traveling is dedicated to learning.

Sidenote: We definitely learned something from this hike turned bushwack that we thought was leading towards an epic view but instead led us to…. a watershed.

If traveling is actually about learning - then our goal should be to travel as little as possible - while still getting the benefits. Shouldn’t the ultimate goal to be satisfied living in one place? Rather than living a life of digital nomadism constantly seeking the next dopamine hit of checking a new country off your list.

On learning from travel

For a large percentage of the trip, my friend Hunter and I were gushing about how . much we loved Italy: the late dinners, the emphasis on food and sharing long meals with people, old buildings, aperitivo, negroni, espressio, etc.

Our friend Miki rolled his eyes and simply said: “Italy: a great place for vacation… not as great for living”.

This is a bit of a pessimistic take - but it does a good job of illustrating the fact that EVERY country has its own unique problems. To us - traveling for the first time in Italy, the place was pure magic. But for someone living there, the reality of the struggling economy was a bit more visceral.

But this is also the best part of travel. We can steal the parts that we love and discard the parts we don’t.

There are a few companies I’ve seen that I suspect are a direct result of people taking an experience they had while traveling and trying to bring it to the U.S:

  • Cabin. I’m tempted to take this night bus from SF —> LA just for the nostalgia of taking night buses in SEAsia

  • Bungalow. Feels inspired by hostels in Europe. Community events, lots of common space, high density of people

  • Probably many more than I can’t think of at the moment…

A few parts of Italy that I’m looking forward to *attempting* to steal 😃:

  • Occasional 9 pm dinners

  • More negronis… seriously can’t believe I am only now realizing how good this drink is.

  • Epic dinners and with friends after skiing (polenta recommended)

  • Drinking alcohol more often - but more casually and less excessively

  • Potlucks with friends… where people make exquisite dishes like twice baked polenta topped with guanciale and honey 😮

  • Less “I’m better than you culture”

  • More value on Home/Family

  • The pizza…

All that said - I’m looking forward to being back in SF. Italian espresso is great.. but I prefer $5 hipster single-origin coffee.

I am looking forward to trying to be content in one place.

Did I mention I’m going to Japan in less than a month? 😆

Some Italian pop for y’all.

Companies I’m excited about:

A few fav quotes from The Gene

Three profoundly destabilizing scientific ideas ricochet through the twentieth century, trisecting it into three unequal parts: the atom, the byte, the gene.

Seek simplicity, but distrust it

Science [would be] ruined if—like sports—it were to put competition above everything else.

Freaks became norms, and norms became extinct. Monster by monster, evolution advanced.

from war & peace:

He used to say that there were only two sources of human vice: idleness and superstition; and that there were only two virtues: activity and intelligence.

In the best, the friendliest and simplest relations, flattery or praise is necessary, just as grease is necessary to keep wheels turning.

Feeling optimistic 😊

Thanks for reading.

- Taylor