I am not a sightseer. I haven’t liked sightseeing for as long as I can remember. That attitude was firmly entrenched by the time I was in 10th grade and we lived in Hawaii. There, my brothers and I were expected to go sightseeing with my parents every Sunday. I’m sure I moaned and groaned and pouted.
During our year in Hawaii, I remember resenting that I couldn’t run away from home. I knew if I made it past the guard at the gate of the army base where we lived, it wouldn’t do me any good because we were living on an island. I’d never be able to find a way off the island.
I hated moving every three years when I was growing up and I vowed that I would never do that to my kids. Al and I moved into our house in Seattle in 1973 and I have lived there ever since. I resisted traveling for many years. When I met Amma in 1989, though, I wanted to spend as much time as possible with her and I couldn’t do that without traveling. But I still didn’t like to travel. For the last 28 years, when my friends wanted to go sightseeing before or after one of Amma’s programs, I have said no. That is true in India too. With very few exceptions, when I have traveled to India, I have gone to Amma’s ashram and stayed put.
There are only two times that I remember enjoying sightseeing and have willingly participated. The first example was when we lived in Germany. I lived there from fourth to sixth grade. I enjoyed visiting castles during those years. Below are two photos of my family at a German castle. In the first photo, I am standing behind my mother, wearing a tan coat. My brothers are in blue. My father must have been taking the photos. I think the other people were German friends of my parents.
The other sightseeing trip that was important to me was more recent. In June of 2015 my daughter, her husband and I visited the Martin Luther King Historical Site during a break in Amma’s Atlanta programs. That visit brought back so many memories for me and I treasure the experience. Chaitanya and I took Sreejit there this past summer. I appreciated the opportunity to share that experience with both of them.
Even though those two experiences were important to me, I imagine I will maintain my stance of “I’m Not a Sightseer” forever. But I know better than to say “Never!”
Addendum: After I finished this post, I started remembering the years that I traveled with Al to places like the Grand Tetons and Yellowstone. And when my kids were old enough I took them to Zion National Park and other places in the Southwest. Later, I traveled repeatedly to Bryce Canyon and Christ in the Desert Monastery by myself. Those trips felt like pilgrimages to me. Is there a difference between that kind of traveling and sightseeing? I may have to ponder this topic some more.
Written for Dungeon Prompts: Never Shared