Thursday, July 29, 2010

been there done that

by Kevin Lyons

Haven't you been hearing that a lot lately? Thirty something, sophisticated and well-traveled people have been using this term more and more... Safari, pyramid-hopping, bungee jumping, scuba diving, mountain climbing, ashram living, fitness boot-camps you name it... I got curious and looked up for the dictionary definition, which is “To have experienced the topic under discussion, to the point of boredom or complacency”  I can't remember how many times I heard a conversation where someone is saying for example “I am planning to climb Kilimanjaro this summer” and the other person automatically responding “oh been there done that, I've actually been to all the mountains in Africa, and I will do Everest summit next year.” What a perfect way to kill the enthusiasm of the person who opened the subject! If you like, replace climbing with scuba, photography, cycling, that will give you just more examples of the “been there done that” bunch.

Doesn't it also show that  we live our lives like a big list of action points? Books like “1000 places you must see before you die, 100 things to do before you are 30” sell like hot cupcakes. We like to have a list to be checked off, an action plan to be fulfilled, something quantifiable that we can measure our “success” against. Often times, unfortunately the quality falls through the cracks.

In Bali, I met some backpackers who were visiting 10 different places in 3 different countries in 15 days , because this was their travel plan for 2010. Wow! I wonder what can I observe about the culture or absorb about the life in such a claustrophobic schedule? For sure I would be an expert of airport securities and duty free shops. The photos I put on facebook would be fabulous, and the “cities I've pinned” map on tripadvisor would look handsomely populated. Next time someone tells me that they are going to x country for their holidays, I can say “oh been there, awesome place” But have I really been there?

If, within 4 months I watch all the films listed on “100 movies you should see before you die” book, would I really become a film mogul? Would I be a happier person compared to anyone who never watched those movies?
More importantly, would I die as a more complete person?

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