I heard this idea in the kitchen of our hostel, that you should “see Nice properly.” As in, see the sights of the town and get a feel of the place (I am making my own description, but it seems reasonable, right?) This is actually an admirable goal and sentiment. When there are so many packaged all-inclusive don’t-leave-the-resort trips on offer it is good to hear the encouragement to see the place you are in.
However such a worthwhile traveler encouragement presents a bit of a dilemma for us though. How do we balance being travelers who see the world (and report back of what is out there on the blogs) and not burn ourselves to a crisp trying to do it all?
The Fear of Missing Something
Nice is a stopover for us. It is not a destination in itself. It certainly could be (it is a nice enough place from the little we have seen), but we are only here for two days. Not anywhere near long enough to “see” things in our way. And yet the urge to see stuff is so strong. How can we be in a place and not want to experience all it has to offer!?
It seems a sacrilege as a traveler to just pass through nearly ignoring a fascinating city. And yet that is nearly exactly what we need to be doing in Nice. To pack more “doing” and “going” into two days is just going to burn us out. We tried it yesterday after a nighttrain from Paris and it ended up badly.
This seems to come down to the fear of “missing something”. That we are so frightened to miss out on a sight. To hear the “so you were in X and didn’t see Y? Such a shame.” And yet, how terrible would this really be?
This is a long distance fun run, not a high stakes sprint to the finish.
Thinking Different, Acting Different
I have written about shifting my mindset from a vacation thought pattern to a more longer term traveler. I see this above question as a part of it. The way we want to travel is akin to a long distance runner not a sprint race. Not only is it not at all a race (competition) it is much more a long distance thing. To look ahead and realize that we need to conserve our strength to see the things we are actually excited about and be perfectly ok with letting other things pass us by (running metaphor too, score!).
This is not at all to say that the “sprint style” travel is bad or unworthy. It definitely can be. The sentiment from the first paragraph that you should take time to “really see” a place is totally worthwhile, especially in a beach town where the golden sand has such a draw. The fact that it IS a worthy sentiment is part of what makes it difficult to ignore. I agree with it, so I want to go “see things right” and yet I have to realize I have to do right by myself too.
Prioritize the Nothing
We are still noticing that we have planned this trip too tight and a bit too fast. Even a week in Brussels was not really enough time to see what we actually wanted to see and still get time to work as well as time together and pure downtime to let our heads recover from the rest. There is never enough time for everything, so there has to be priorities of course. The nothingness needs to be a big priority, I am learning. And yet because it is “nothing”, it is hard to grasp enough to prioritize. How can I sit and do Nothing when there is so much stuff to see? It feels wrong somehow.
We keep struggling with the urge to SEE and DO and EXPERIENCE, and in doing so pushing ourselves and letting the “nothingness” get de-prioritized by default. This is a shame and something we need to change. Yes, we still want to see things and we will, but we want to see what we are excited about not just what we “should” be seeing (Ali has a really good post on this concept here) in each place we happen to land. To let ourselves be different and see things at our own pace for our own reasons.
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So for this day in Nice, I am happily “doing (almost) nothing”. This post is part of the “nothing” in the form of writing and non-travel-like downtime. And yet I still want to go up the Chateau hill in Nice to get some pictures, but in the good light late in the day after work has been done. I will resist the fear of “missing something” and realize that I don’t want to miss out on my projects that I am invested in either. This is a long distance fun run, not a high stakes sprint to the finish.
This rather aptly titled post that came across my stream has a similar idea (judge from the title whether it is safe for you to read): Do whatever you fucking want