Useful in studies of the human life span, the noun “longevity” would be presumptuous and inaccurate, unless one were to observe the caution, that it is merely a comparative term, the use of which is normally restricted to studies concerning mankind’s rather short life. The term is selectively awarded to those relatively few individuals, fortunate enough to attain the age of one hundred years or thereabouts. Considering that our planet’s existence is measured in many millions of years, one can appreciate the relative brevity of each man’s franchise and the practical value of the prod, “life is short.”
The extent of the lifespan of homo sapiens is so ephemeral, so relatively limited in length, that it might well be permissible to assign to him the status of a mere visitor to the planet or, functionally, a “tourist.” The quality and intrinsic value of each tourist’s relatively brief life visit is, fortunately, a function of his own choice. A life, albeit short, dedicated, at least in part, to self-examination, enhancement of knowledge and mature perspective, ultimately results in the development of a valuable citizen, with the reward being the experience of a satisfying personal life. A life of disinterested ignorance, and reductionist insularity, is a shamefully limited enterprise, lacking in meaning, understanding and depth; in sum, a wasted visit. The latter style of tourist lacks the understanding, knowledge and perspective to be accorded judgmental responsibility. Additionally, In his activities as a “tourist” (in its more common usage) by reason of such limited knowledge, he visits our unique institutions, and magnificent national sites, but does so with resources inadequate to appreciate their historical, symbolic or national significance.
Such observations are analogous to his foreign travel experiences. Educated and aware tourists who travel to foreign venues of historic or artistic interest, derive especial pleasure and satisfaction from their recognition of historic or literary sites, previously read about. The tourist who merely “takes in” (is simply present at) the available sights, without any personal attribution of significance, can be assured of a vapid and disappointing experience. Man, as a tourist on the planetary surface, whether at home in his domestic life, or out on his travels, (nationally or internationally) requires insight, understanding and sufficient background, to attain fulfillment and satisfaction. In our brief lifetime tours, we need to avail ourselves of (and not, ungratefully, ignore) evolution’s generous gift to mankind of an advanced brain, by the dutiful pursuit of self-enhancement and knowledgeable perspective.
Not long ago (we have noted this anecdotal experience in a prior post), a gym acquaintance complained bitterly, that he wasted his annual two -week vacation, by foolishly deciding to visit the Old City of Prague; he said he “had nothing to do there and it was boring”. We shall opt to reveal the astounding fact that this person is a college graduate, indeed, a practicing dentist. Prague? Of all the opportunities for touristic stimulation, Prague may well top the list. The Old City is awash with ancient history, Medieval and Barouche architecture, ancient fountains, a world famous medieval clock, ancient Disney-like mysterious churches, the Charles River and the Charles River Bridge, The Oldest Synagogue in Central Europe (home to the apocryphal Golem), the museums, numerous music venues and available concerts (Prague was Mozart’s hood), the open Public Square with food and demonstrations, the assorted restaurants and so very much more. The evident conclusion is that the individual must bring with him sufficient resources (background and sensitivity) to the touristic experience, as he is undeniably required in his private life. Judgment and perspective, at home or away, is the product of an open and enlightened mind. Enlightenment and perspective are vitally essential to, properly and satisfactorily exploit the short period of life which is allotted to us.
The apparent key to making the most of our lives, as tourists visiting, and traveling the planet, is to invest some portion of his limited time, in the acquisition of such necessary knowledge and perspective. Self enhancement can easily and enjoyably be attained, by reading good literature, by formal learning experiences and by exposure to the arts and sciences. Despite our relatively brief appearances on the planet, life can, be exciting and meaningful, if we but will it.
Exceptionally gifted individuals have historically been recording the accumulated wisdom of the ages, readily accessible to everyone. Reading the great books is a fulfilling and enjoyable way to obtain knowledge and enhance understanding. Authors, great playwrights, poets and artists, have eternally portrayed man’s plight on earth and the essential issues with which he is confronted in life, furnishing audiences and readers with valuable perspective. Joy, satisfaction and confidence, derived from one’s pursuit of enhanced knowledge and fulfilling experiences, constitute the great reward thus earned, during his stay on the planet. John Locke famously said, “All mankind is born with a clean slate” (“tabula rasa”). The successful human tourist furnishes that slate with fulfilling self- enrichment and judicious perspective. New books are being written, and original art created, for further and future reference by succeeding parties of tourists, to ensure to them the continuing availability of self-fulfillment.