In general, I’m not much of a shopper. The more I move, the less desire I have to accumulate. And when purchasing something cannot be avoided, I don’t really feel like dithering around. I just want to get in there, grab what I need, pay for it and leave. Yeah, yeah, I appreciate your offer to help me find something, but don’t bother me. Stop chit-chatting in the middle of the aisle. Get out of my way.
But I have to admit that when I’m traveling, my behavior changes. I do like to see what passes for important in other cultures. I like to observe what they’re eating in the local markets. I get a sense of their style and their creativity by looking in their shop windows, and allowing myself the occasional spontaneous splurge. Yes, please, I would like some gelato, and make it a double.
Why the difference? Yes, when traveling I’m more relaxed and have more time. Yes, my own culture doesn’t strike me as unusual and therefore my need to scrutinize is greatly reduced. But I don’t think that’s it.
After pondering it all night here at work, my conclusion is that here at home, when I see something I need or even just want but can’t afford, it just pisses me off. I work hard, but I am one of the have-nots, and the older I get the more I resent it.
On the other hand, when I travel, I don’t expect to be able to afford to shop. I’ve pretty much shot my financial wad on just getting to the country in question, so acquiring is unthinkable. That means the pressure is off. I can gaze, I can peruse, I can admire. I can simply be grateful for being where I am and seeing what I see.
Perhaps “home me” could take a lesson from “travel me” about living in the moment.