Do you remember the last time you were a tourist? Where were you? What did you do? As somebody who grew up in Toronto – a large tourist destination – and has led many out-of-town friends on a tour of the city, I can pick out the tourists from a distance. I have also been a tourist many times throughout North America and in Asia. You can easily spot tourists because they are the ones always on a mission, fully adorned with a fanny pack, a map, and a giant Nikon around the neck, desperately interacting with the locals around them especially if they feel lost or find themselves in the wrong direction, trying every type of food under the sun (and also being ripped off along the way, and it’s even more common in Asia where price discrimination is the norm), snapping selfies and photos of every nook and cranny no matter how mundane, and I can go on forever.
There is something special about tourists. Yes, they may look out of place and even dorky to some locals. I actually really like them. Do you know why? And it’s not just they boost the tourism industry. Tourists have an inner spark that drives them to explore and question the unknown including their unfamiliar territory. They also let down their guard, put down their prejudices and just go with the flow. Even when they are lost, they do not hesitate to ask questions even if the questions sound strange or elementary. They are open-minded about trying everything new. They also take pleasure from the most mundane objects. I remember touring Hawaii a few years ago, the sight of a coconut or even the smell of the Pacific Ocean just got me all excited. Everything for a tourist is a half-full glass. They are optimistic about what the world. As you can see, I love to be in the presence of tourists.
There are lessons we can take away from watching tourists and also being a tourist. What if we face life each day with the same mentality as a tourist? Can we take pleasure in even the most ordinary objects? Can we get excited just to be able to breathe in the fresh air? Can we let down our guard just long enough to enjoy the fleeting moments of life? The fleeting moments of life are sometimes the best memories. I don’t think it’s ever too late to find that spark again. All you have to do is be a tourist in a new destination. I bet that when you return, you might just become a changed person – somebody who appreciates life more than ever.