Weâ€™ve all heard the saying that money cannot buy happiness. I read recently that an investment firm researched the root of happiness so that they could better serve their customersâ€™ needs. They discovered that buying luxury watches, expensive furs, and fancy cars did nothing to improve long-term happiness. Instead, it was revealed that world travel, hiking mountains, visiting distant temples, making pilgrimages to interesting places, meeting new people, and experiencing new cultures was the path to joy. Albert Camus said that for any man who was able to sustain himself at a minimum level financially, traveling the world should be the most important thing in life.
Of all the aspects of my job that bring me joy it is the one often seen as the most arduous, the press tour, that I enjoy the most. Press tours are by their nature a travel event. The routine goes something like: fly to new city, do press event, sleep, fly to new city, do press event… lather, rinse, repeat. Cities whiz by in taxi windows or are seen from behind the revolving doors of nice hotels. When Iâ€™m lucky we the tour stays in a city long enough to enjoy a dinner on the town with a crowd of new faces.
The European press tour for Bad Day LA landed me in Paris, then Munich, Hamburg and finally Berlin. In each city I met the local people, ate the local food, and saw what sights my schedule would allow. Press tours are for travel what speed dating is for romance.
I always come away from these adventures with an altered sense of scale. I feel humbled by how small my place in the world is. I see that each person is the center of their own story, and Iâ€™m always reminded that we should recognize everyone has their own personal narrative, of which they are the star. And then I recognize the scale, how big the world is. At every moment the world is happening. Somewhere in the world right now people are preparing themselves for sleep while others are drinking their morning coffee. Someone is making love while somewhere in the world another person is breathing a last breath. In this sense we are all a part of the larger whole, all inhabitants of the same giant sphere.
The truth is that people everywhere are the same. They all have their lives, their dramas, their desires, and their fears. Guys in Berlin race their cars around recklessly just like guys in the US, South America, and Japan. Taxi drivers yell at pedestrians, slow moving vehicles, and nothing in particular in Paris the same as in Hong Kong. There is bad pop music in every language. We all love our friends, our coffee, our food, and our cities. We are all the same, and yet for some reason weâ€™re constantly made to feel separated, apart, and different. “Hell is other people”, but is it really?
Personally, I believe this sense of separation is the fault not of the people, but of their governments and particularly the media. Another aspect of the world I witness when I travel is the way in which the media represents our planet to us. Things donâ€™t happen to â€œhumansâ€, but instead to Indians or Palestinians. Words are colored so that those who arenâ€™t on â€œourâ€ side are labeled terrorists and evildoers. The world is constantly broken into territories, split by borders, and separated by colors, religions, and income levels.
When I travel I meet not just my fellow humans, but my brothers and sisters, and essential reflections of myself. I feel thankful not only for the work that people involved with the tour put into these events, but for the fact that Iâ€™m able to momentarily step into their world and see their lives, their cities. This window into the world always leaves me feeling hope that some day weâ€™ll all recognize how we are all essentially the same.
If you do not resist, it does not exist.
(More images from the Berlin leg of the PR tour can be seen HERE.)