The seated traveler

April 29, 2019

Carol likes the architecture; I like the open seating

Near Trevi Fountain while Carol shops for souvenirs

Maybe the reason I gained weight on this Italy trip has to do with what I did in between walking and eating. What I did in that in between time was sit. I did a lot of it, too, as I recall. There was no walking we did (unless it was to a restaurant) where I didn’t keep a sharp eye out for a bench, a bench with a good back too.

I love to sit. At home, Carol is intrigued (I think that’s the word for it) by my capacity to just sit. For hours it seems to her. She can leave me sitting on the couch at mid-morning to shop, visit and run errands, returning in mid-afternoon to find I’m still ensconced on the couch the way she had left me. “I got up to pee,” I offer in my defense.

Aboard an Amalfi Coast ferry while Carol shoots pictures

I do a lot of sitting, especially when sightseeing and especially when the sight being seen is a church. There’s only so much of statuary, sacred paintings and opulent altars I can stand, and I’d experienced all that I could stand growing up Catholic. So when Carolyn would come upon a church, I would look to a pew and park myself, and let Carolyn saunter among the the naves and transepts at her leisure. I do it exactly the same way with Carol, who has a more architectural than spiritual attraction to churches than Carolyn had, but can spend a similar amount of time sauntering.

Looks like the tree is growing around me

I have Homer Simpson’s brain when I’m sitting, so there’s not much absorption of my surroundings going on while I’m sitting, or much of anything at all going on for that matter. Whatever dust bunnies of thoughts going through my head as I sit and stare blankly into space are hardly worth recounting later, even if I could recount them. Yet Carol understands what it is I get out of travel, so when she startles me out of the trance I’d slipped into while she was observing and photographing, she knows I’ve gotten as much out of sightseeing experience as she has. It’s the difference between someone studying the vastness of the visible cosmos, versus someone studying the Higgs boson. (That is, the difference between someone seeing so much, versus someone who has to imagine seeing anything at all.)

Not to put too fine a point on it, I’m a lot like traveling with a potted plant: water me and give me plenty of sunlight, and I will continue to grow. And a potted plant can be a pleasant, cheerful addition as a centerpiece on a restaurant table or a night table back at the hotel.

Sitting in a First Class coach on a high speed train is still the best sitting of all

Carol has remarked how still I am when I’m sitting. (I suspect she’s taken to carrying a little pocket mirror with her for those times she’s found me sitting and staring at the TV, which is turned off.) Sitting is one of the most satisfying of life’s experiences for me, so why wouldn’t I want to incorporate it into my travels. Going and Being have become the two driving forces of my life, and Have Bench, Will Travel is its motto.

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