Thursday, August 21, 2008

What If I Don't Have Enough Awe?

I realized something today--actually while on the toilet.

You know....I tend to do my most important thinking while on the toilet or in the shower.  What's the deal with that?   Maybe I think best with my pants off?

Who knows.

Back to what I was thinking about....

I realized I'm scared to see big and beautiful famous things of nature.  Examples would be Uluru, the Great Barrier Reef, and the Grand Canyon.

I'm scared to go, because I'm afraid I won't love them enough.

I worry I'll stand among the tourists with their flashing cameras. My companions will be wiping away tears of joy. They'll say Dina, isn't this amazing?

What if I don't find it amazing enough?

What if I have to be all fake.  Oh, it's wonderful!

I read Bill Bryson's book about Australia and he talks about how he wasn't at all excited about seeing Uluru.  He had seen the image so many times, that he was pretty much sick of it before he even got there. But once he was there, he totally loved it.  Uluru was like some kind of amazing experience for him.

What if it's not amazing for me?   What if all I see is a big rock that changes colors?  What if to me it's no more amazing than the Laser show in Stone Mountain Georgia?

I do get excited about things in nature.  Maybe it works better for me when I have low expectations.

 Last night, I was walking upstairs to go to bed, and through the windows on the staircase, I could see the moon.  I think it was a full moon--or almost full.  I had no idea it would be there, and I was in complete awe.   The moon was so bright and beautiful.  Plus, the reflection from the glass did some weird thing and it looked like there were three moons. It was awesome.

I yelled out to Jack.  Come here!  Come here!

He came and gave the exact same reaction I fear I'll have if we go to Uluru. He said something like Cool, and then rushed back upstairs.

I called to Tim who came and put out a little more enthusiasm.

I don't know.  Maybe I just prefer the little things in life--the stuff that's not well known or famous.

My dad used to joke about it.  He'd tell stories of everyone else watching the elephants taking a bath at the zoo.  And my camera would be pointed at a squirrel.

I think one issue is I don't like crowds of tourists. It ruins it for me.

If I could be alone (or almost alone) at Uluru, I probably would love it.

But all the talking and the cameras clicking bothers me.   Sometimes I get this sense that people don't even  truly care what they're looking at. They're just taking pictures so they can brag to their friends at home.  

I think I prefer climbing up the sand dunes in Port Stephens.  They're not spectacular or amazing.

They're not famous.  They're not on a postcard.  But they're pleasant and rather beautiful.   Best of all when I went there, I was usually completely alone.    I loved that.


  1. I think you have the right kind of awe.

    Have you thought about The Daintree/Cape Tribulation for the Barrier Reef? Cairns is not the best Reef experience, I think.

    Also, Fraser Island is worth checking out if you like dunes. And dingos and dugongs.

  2. Good point. Another point is - how many people see these grand places and pretend to have such a cosmically-significant reaction just so they feel they've lived up to the expectation?

    It's natural to feel a little underwhelmed at seeing what is, essentially, a rock after all the hype that surrounds Uluru. Try and see them but don't put any pressure on yourself to feel a certain way - grand places are only as grand as far as they connect with YOU.

    I remember going to the Whitsunday Islands and being disappointed that there wasn't many palm trees (more Norfolk pines instead)... the problem wasn't that the place wasn't beautiful but it didn't match my expectation. Change your expectation (or try to go in with an open mind) and you won't be disappointed one way or the other :)

  3. I sometimes feel the same about tourist places, where it is not about enjoying whatever it is they are supposed to be enjoying, but about buying the t shirt to brag about where you went.

  4. Yep, I can't stand the crowds or the over-publicised attractions either.
    I prefer the little-known, out of the way things where you can explore and enjoy the place almost (or completely) on your own.

  5. Lee: I don't know much about Daintree/Cape Tribulation. It sounds good. I'll have to look into it. I have heard of Fraser island. That's the one known for sand, right?

    The Incognitrix: I think having an expectation can definitely ruin things. I think that's why I don't go along with that whole "Secret" book. For me, I usually end up having a better time if I have no expectations or low expectations. I did have high expectations for Australia though. But I also kind of had low expectations because I worried since I had high expectations, I'd end up being disappointed.

    Maybe that's the trick. Have high expectations with the belief that you're going to end up being disappointed. But in reality, that means you actually have low expectations.

    Tribog: What if you enjoy the place AND buy the t-shirt? We did buy some Aussie t-shirts....although if it had been just about the t-shirts, I could have just ordered them online. Would have saved us thousands of dollars.

    Jayne: Yeah. That's definitely me. If I do like something popular, I try to come when there are no crowds. That's one of the things I love about homeschooling. I love going to our zoo here when all the other kids are at school. Or when it's a rainy day. I love going to places like that, and feeling like we're almost the only ones there.

  6. I hate crowds. I grocery shop at 10pm and won't go near a mall unless its a tuesday immediately when the store opens.

    The only thing worse than shopping in a crowd is sight seeing in a crowd.

    I recently went to the Grand Canyon and it just didn't have the awe inspiring affect on me that I thought it would, mostly because at every stop there were at least 30 people there, all gawking at the canyon and it just felt less special.

    By the way, they killed the whale :( but did you know that there is such a thing as a whale whisperer?

    "On Thursday, Aboriginal whale whisperer Bunna Lawrie tried to soothe the listless animal. Adorned with feathers on his head and white paint markings on his face, Lawrie reached into the water to stroke Colin while singing a humming, tongue-rolling tune."

    This makes me want to go to Australia even more then ever. I want to see whale whispering in action.

  7. Think best on the toilet? Of course! Having a strain forces the blood into the brain! So if you're stuck for inspiration - have a blog on the bog!

    Now I've got "that" out of my cistern - system - you're right about those tourist sites; they're overrated. After all, that's what other people find interesting, or what the tourism "authorities" want you to like (for their profit). You'll find plenty to be awestruck by, just following your own tastes. And they'll be things you'd never expect; including things that are so far under the noses of locals that they can't see them.

  8. Darcy: I don't know if I've ever gone grocery shopping late at night. That would be cool. In Sydney, the aquarium and Wildlife World were open until 10:00. Jack and I would sometimes go after dinner and it would be almost empty. It was so different than going during the crowded times.

    That's so sad about the whale.

    Whale-whispering would be really cool.

    Retarius: I never thought about the strain on the brain thing. I wonder if that works in labor as well. Maybe that's too much strain.

    Maybe it only works with a moderate amount.

    I think you have a good point about the tourism authorities.

    Tim and I talked about NYC yesterday. Most tourists stay in Midtown. Visit Central Park. Go see a show on Broadway. Eat at Carnegie Deli. Take a trip on the Statue of Liberty. Maybe visit Chinatown and Little Italy.

    But there is SO much more to NYC: Lower East Side. East Village. West Village. Madison Square Park. Union Square Green Market. Staten Island Ferry. A restaurant that serves only rice-pudding.....

  9. It's in the shower or in the car for me. Now I'm really wondering - what is with that? Intriguing. Maybe they're just the only moments things get really quiet and focused...?

  10. Catatonic Kid,

    I don't get much thinking done in the car. Jack is almost always with me and he talks and talks and talks and talks.......