Another great post by Allen Milewski …. Enjoy!
Travel is an Art, it is true. Its enjoyment doesn’t come automatically but requires a good deal of hard work. Oh, its true that there are different phases of travel and the first few phases- those of stress reduction and relaxation might be easier to achieve just by being away from the humdrum pressures of daily life and our home environment. But, eventually, lying on the beach catching rays or watching the sea lap up against rocks has got to become less fulfilling and, for me, that is when the real joy of travel starts. This joy has to do with noticing and exploring all the myriad aspects of the culture and the setting being visited. But doing this is hard.
That is why I have the perfect life. Nuray has been travel-blogging for quite a while now. There are near-weekly pressures from deadlines- even though they may be self-imposed- to produce new stories. It is this pressure to provide descriptions and insights that capture the richness around us that makes travel so enjoyable because it forces us to view these places from constantly different viewpoints. And this is what travel is all about.
Here is an example. Nuray and I are walking through the weekly Thursday marketplace in Yalikavak. This is a big one, and apparently quite famous on the Bodrum peninsula for its variety of goods. You can read Nuray’s account and see amazing pictures in her blog post about the Yalikavak Market. But, in truth, we’ve been at marketplaces before and while they are always exciting, how often can you write descriptions of barrels of red spices and piles of almonds laid out on carpets? What else is there about this market that makes it so fascinating? It’s clear it IS exciting, but why? Of course – that’s it! It’s the vendors themselves. Just look at their faces- all so different. Some are worn and experienced. Others are eager and still others are clever, even sly. Suddenly, questions abound. Where do these vendors live? How do they cart their goods to the market? What time do they get up? How long have they been doing this?
We are suddenly in a whole new marketplace- transformed by our altered viewpoint. Captured within this one place, there may be handfuls – maybe even hundreds – of new and different marketplaces, each one just waiting for us to notice it.
This reminds me of a hobby I had the lucky opportunity to do very briefly many years ago. Several of my students had put together a team to do improvisational comedy. Such teams are composed to be able to cover the major people-types (thin/neurotic, chubby/jolly, romantic leads, etc.). I believe I was chosen to play the befuddled professor types, which was easy since I was a befuddled professor. I played with these remarkably clever kids for just three months before moving away, but while I did it, it changed my view of everything I did. Suddenly, every situation I found myself in became a chance to develop “material”. Every task, no matter how onerous, was grist for a future skit. Imagine yourself, being forced to attend a dinner party, sitting next to a remarkably snooty and boring gentleman and facing the prospects of this uncomfortable condition for hours to come. Of course, this would be unbearable unless you could spend the evening quietly asking yourself: “How could I ‘do’ this guy? How could I act him out in a way that would capture every shred of snootiness? What is it that makes him seem so snooty? Is it his voice?- I see he starts every sentence with a ‘So,…’ – is that the snooty part? No, that’s not it. It’s his long pauses between sentences as if he is expecting you to be amazed. How would I mimic that pause? Does he do it every sentence or just sometimes? Is there a rule?” Once you take the Improv stance, every little thing becomes endlessly rich…. and therefore enjoyable. It is no wonder they call Improv exercises “games”.