Sunday, February 20, 2011

We are all conditioned beings

Nobel wrote about the observation of a roomful of people looking like they do not want to be there at Chuck E Cheese. That's somewhat understandable since not many adults would enjoy being in a roomful of screaming 3-6 year olds. However, I remember going to a gorgeous vacation spot in Mexico called Tulum, which is a Mayan ruins situated right next to a gorgeous turquoise beach - how cool is that? I was a bit bummed when I saw buses after buses of tourists being unloaded at the spot, but it's understandable that tourists would want to see this amazing sight. What shocked me was the expression on these people's faces:  a large percentage of these tourists walked around the ruins looking like zombies, with a bored-looking, I'd-rather-be-somewhere-else face. It made me wonder: what, if anything in the world, will keep these zombies happy for a prolonged period of time?

I'm guessing perhaps the zombies were tired from the heat and mosquitos and too much walking and being shipped around between different sight-seeing spots. Perhaps they wanted to skip the ruins and just hit the beach (one must walk through the ruins to get to the beach). Perhaps they'd rather be back at their fancy air-conditioned hotel and use the swimming pool instead.

I have so many thoughts about this observation. Is it true that not all humans enjoy nature to the same extent? I suspect the answer is yes. I like fancy hotels too, but the sight of a pristine beach or exotic rock formation widens my eyes more. It's the other way around for some people; they get more wide-eye excited about a 5-start hotel room than any kind of nature's wonders.

So that begs the question: if these people know that they prefer the comforts of home or fancy hotel rooms, why did they sign up for this sightseeing tour? This, I think, points out a common issue in society. I'm thinking that people get stressed out at work, so they sign up for a vacation package, without reading the details of the tours carefully. Or, Grandpa's paying for the trip, so the whole family should go, knowing that the kids would hate it. Or, when in Mexico, one should go to all the must-sees, even though one cares neither for Mayan ruins nor for beaches in general. Or, how should one use up the vacation days? Everyone else seems to do these Mexico all-inclusive trips, because it's cheap, and the photos would make everyone back home jealous, so one should follow the crowd and be sheep.

Are we so conditioned that we go through our lives signing up for this and that trip/activity/process without really understanding our own needs and wants? What's the solution to this? Should we wake up, stop taking jobs we don't want, stop bringing kids to birthday parties at places we hate, and stop signing up for vacations we know we won't enjoy? Or, should we somehow learn to be more appreciative of the present moment, no matter what situation we're in? I wouldn't know how to make myself enjoy the present at the Chuck E Cheese party described by Nobel; maybe bring ear plugs, or find ways to laugh at those who are miserable, or suck it up and hypnotize myself into enjoying the situation? (Sounds like what my family tells me I should do at family gatherings).

By the way, I was so breath-taken by the pristine beach, I wished I could meld with the nature (yah I know I'm weird). I wanted to drink the sight with my eyes. I wanted to breath the crystalline turquoise essence into my body.  My legs looked like they made 100 mosquitoes rub their bellies with happiness but I took no notice of it until I got back to the hotel that afternoon.  Actually, when I do yoga, I also have a similar feeling that I'm melding with something bigger.  Is this how it feels when one is truly present? The beauty of nature and the rhythmic breathing with my body movement both seem to have the ability to draw me out of my thinking mind into the present.  Either one is good enough; it's not necessary to have both (ie. I do not need to be practicing yoga at a fancy yoga retreat in order to have an ecstatic experience).


  1. I also loved Tulum! Swimming at that beach made me feel so connected to those who swam there centuries ago (corny, I know). I have sympathy for those who wait passively to be prodded by the next artificial stimulus, because the training starts at the chucky cheese age,and it takes a lot of work to be deprogrammed. I have never been to chucky cheese, but I think I get the vibe.

  2. Wow.. I never thought about those who swam there centuries ago.. I wonder what it was like. Did they have formal ceremonies? Was everybody allowed to use the ocean or only people of certain ranks were allowed access?

    Artificial stimulus... thanks for putting the proper name to it!

  3. I know trading boats came to that beach. So someone had to wade in to unload. I don't think it's possible to keep people out of that water. Can you imagine being a kid and being told not go in when it's really hot? No Way!