It’s half past ten in the evening and I’m quietly musing to myself in my hotel room in St George, Utah, while Stevie Nicks of Fleetwood Mac gently soothes my ears. I love Fleetwood Mac- in fact, cheesy as it sounds, sometimes I get into these strange moods where I just LOVE music in general. It genuinely fazes me that some people can give or take music; they’re happy to plod along while Springsteen plays along in the background at work for example, taking no notice of the effect the music has on them. If it were me, I’d be shaking my fists, shouting ‘CAN’T START A FIRE!’…etc. Anyway, tonight while I’ve been adding yet another load of photos to Facebook (sorry guys, it’s more of a personal scrapbook for me, please unclick my updates on your feed if I’m spamming!) and listening to some pretty epic music.
I started off with some Extreme, God knows why, but every now and then I like to mellow out to the dulcet tones of ‘More Than Words.’ The mellow mood continued with Gotye’s eerie ‘Somebody That I Used To Know’ and finally reached a crescendo with the absolute genius that is Fleetwood Mac. This is what I mean when I say I’m amazed that some people aren’t affected by music- how can you ignore the raw emotion of ‘Go Your Own Way’? To me it conjures up pictures of people leaving, people who were once deeply connected being torn apart, and if I’m not mistaken, was directly connected to the relationships of the members of Fleetwood Mac being severed. When people ask me what kind of music I like, I simply say ‘something I can shake a fist at while I sing it.’ Sounds a bit strange, but any kind of (cheesy) ballad that I can belt out unashamedly is exactly the kind of music I like, and ‘Go Your Own Way’ fits that description perfectly in my opinion. Anyway, I sound like a bit of a cheese gushing about how much I love music, and, for fear of appearing like Rachel Berry in Glee, think I’ll stop there.
Anyway, the real purpose of this entry was to make a point- one which, will probably offend some, and unnecessarily stereotype others, which I don’t mean to do, but I can’t make the point otherwise. I was just thinking about the purpose of taking this trip. Having gone to the University of York, though I hate to stereotype, I encountered my fair share of what I would call ‘toffs’, many of whom, had taken a ‘gap year’ (yaaar) previously and had their Facebook profile plastered with images of them cradling third world infants. Now then, while I obviously think this is a very noble cause, unfortunately, it’s not something I can see myself doing. I have nothing against philanthropy for any cause, but it really nags at me when I hear people who come from massively privileged backgrounds going to third world countries with the purpose of ‘finding themselves.’ Yes, while there may be nothing more rewarding than helping the needy, the reality is, they will always be poor, and may even go as far as to find it insulting when someone from a completely alien and privileged culture comes in with the mission to ‘help out’ for all of five minutes.
I’ve gone a bit off-track here, and probably offended quite a few, but what I mean to say is, I never considered myself a person who would like to travel, ignorant as it sounds. Hence, I chose the States- a privileged, first world land and the very definition of capitalism. While I would obviously love to help out those who are less fortunate than me, the reality is, I’ll never alone be able to save the fate of an entire nation, so the best I can do is to stop preaching about the misfortunes of others and make those around me guilty/miserable, and instead accept that I am immensely lucky to be in the position I am in. Being in the States may not have made me ‘find myself’ in terms of encountering those less fortunate than myself, but it did make me realise the whole enormity of the country- how readily available everything is. Fast food. Wifi. Cars. So I may be ignorant and very un-travelled, but I do genuinely feel that being here has taught me something- I thought I had it all in England (and obviously, compared to most of the world, I do) but I can’t help feeling that an American in England would be hopelessly underwhelmed. The sheer vastness of everything here has made me truly appreciate what I have in England- close friends, small, local communities, and obviously, everything we take for granted, like food and shelter.
So in sum, no, I haven’t broadened my horizons on the basis that most do by exposing myself to abject poverty- but I still have reached the same conclusion- I am lucky. Very, very lucky. And all I can do as one singular person is to thank my lucky stars that I am as privileged as I am, and continue to contribute however I can to charities in order to benefit those in less of a fortunate situation than me. So there you have it- the States may be lacking (mostly) in poverty and culture, but you can still learn a thing or two by travelling, wherever you go!