By Kenneth Justice
“It’s not about the city, it’s the people”
~ I’ve just returned from a whir wind weekend in Boston, MA and the latest leg of my Drinking in the Culture Tour, my opportunity to get out of the daily grind and experiencing coffee house culture all over the Western World.
When I was younger I was all about vacations. Rio, Jamaica, Barbados, the Caribbean, all I could think about during dull work weeks was taking vacations to places I’d never been before and sitting in beautiful Resorts sipping Pina’ Colada’s. Vacations were something I looked at as getting away from people and being by myself free of the distractions of busyness and anxiety.
Yet the older I get the more I realize that I don’t want to be sitting in a resort hidden away from the real culture; but rather I love living on the edge and experiencing life in a way that vacationers never see. It’s not that there is anything wrong with going on tours in Boston Boat Cars that whisk you around the city while a dude speaks over a microphone and tells you all about Ben Franklin and where he came up with the idea of the modern Fire Department. But there is something altogether different meeting a psychotherapist at Logan Airport in Boston who offers to hang out with me for a couple hours to get me from Logan to Downtown and tells me all about the city from her perspective.
“I’m sorry, I’m probably the worst person to be telling you about the city” said the Psychotherapist as we sat on the Silver Line Bus being transported to downtown. She hadn’t lived in the city for nearly two decades, but she was wrong, the love of Boston that permeated her entire being made her the perfect person to give me my first introduction to a city I’d never been to before. The years she had been away from Boston had given her a different perspective, a seasoned view of the city; a vision of what it was to her as a youth and what it is to her now as an adult.
It’s not about the city, it’s about the people
Each week I’ve traveled on my Drinking in the Culture tour I’ve learned that it’s not really the city I become fascinated with but rather it’s the city I’m visiting. After all, each city was built by people and the quality of the bricks and mortar and planning put into its development says a lot about the people behind the scenes. The men and women whose sweat and toil raised the city from the dust of the earth into the massive blocks of city streets that I walk upon.
In Boston over the weekend I spent more than 22 hours in one-on-one conversations with over fifty different people. Considering the fact that I arrived Friday at 3 pm and left Sunday at 7 am when I say it was a whirlwind tour of the city I really mean it. I only had a few hours to myself for most of the weekend to wander around. Saturday night, because I had to be at the airport at 5 am I decided to stay up until it was time to leave, and a young woman from Mexico ended up sitting with me from midnight to 4 am sharing with me her life; her first love, what it was like growing up in Mexico City, her work in a PhD program in Hamilton, Ontario, her terrible experience of traveling alone for a week in India, and her love of Cambodia, Thailand, and Japan (places she has visited numerous times).
It’s not about the city, it’s about the people
—) This past weekend I spent two hours with a couple who met each other on Match.com, he’s a fifty five year old from Poland who met Pope John Paul and the experience had a profound effect on his life. She’s a 35 year old Virginia native who worked in politics for many years, “But I can never run for elected office because of all the sexual things I did in my past” she said
—) I spent the evening with SuSu Bryan, an Olympian who played in the London Olympics and is currently training for the Summer Olympics in Brazil
More than fifty people in less than three days and so much to write, yet so little time to publish it. By the time Sunday morning came around the scraps of paper I’d been writing notes on were littered all over and overflowing my backpack. My arms were covered with so many pen scrawls I looked like some kind of wannabe rock star covered in tattoos.
So much of our lives are dedicated to escaping; we want to escape work and get home. We want to escape our house and go to the store. We want to escape our life and go to a beach. Yet in the midst of all that escaping I often wonder if we are simply falling victims to the grass-is-always-greener. Perhaps instead of trying to escape we should learn to live in the moment. To stop for just a second and say hello to the person standing in line with us at the bank. Perhaps we should complement the stranger at the grocery store and tell them it’s nice to see someone with a smile on their face. Who knows, perhaps a simple comment you make to a stranger will turn into a fantastic conversation or a new friend for the rest of your life.
Just a few thoughts as I sipped my coffee this morning,
P.S. Check out the brand new episode of the Kenny & Kylie Podcast Show <LINK>
Categories: Culture & Society