For those of us who have been on the road for any length of time, the warm, tingly sensation of exploration is what drives us onward to each subsequent destination. It is the allure of a new conquest, a new challenge, the chance to delve into the depths of a new country, a new culture, to find pleasure in uncovering the hidden mysteries that no on else has seen. It is the lure of forbidden fruit, beckoning us onwards. Just the tip. Just to see what it feels like.
The first time is always exhilarating; a rush of emotions, nervousness, panic, culture shock, and sometimes even a few moments of desperate “ohmygodwhatthehellwasithinkingdoingthis” as you are surrounded by the unknown, the different, the strange, the uncomfortable. Teenagers marrying at the age of 12. Drinking legally at the age of 14. Shamans cutting the heads off chickens and sprinkling blood on the locals as the body writhes in the hands of the spiritual leader. Men with seven, eight, nine wives, ranging from 14 years to 30 years of age. Deep-fried tarantulas, cockroaches and other delicacies. Bribing and wheel-greasing with cash money. Legal prostitution. Legal drug use.
Every time you come into contact with one of these experiences, you feel a rush of emotions associated with fear, outrage, exhilaration, shock, awe and possibly even disgust. Nervousness. Anticipation. Excitement. It is your cultural virginity reacting. You cannot control your outbursts, because you are new and inexperienced, and every little thing causes sensations that send you over the edge.
A Lover’s Embrace
Over time, after you pop your travel cherry, those moments of cultural difference are what drives you on to the next destination where you experience that same sensations over and over again. Your first few times fade into the comfortable warmth of experience.
Instead of a rush of nervous anticipation followed by a crashing wave of emotions and overwhelming sensations, you pull the strange, the different, the unique, over your skin like a well-worn blanket. You are a Traveler, well-versed in the ways of the world. A quickie just won’t do; you prefer the long, slow, drawn-out affairs where you are deep within the confines of a country for weeks, months and possibly even years at a time, uncovering every hidden mystery along the way.
You have become the experienced lover, caressing each destination with the tender and masterful touch of someone who takes their time, exploring every nook and cranny, riding each wave of emotion, of experience, to the crest. You no longer enjoy short bursts of pleasure, nor are your ventures into other countries brief and hasty with the fumbling groping of a first-timer. You are no longer a virgin, titillated by brief encounters and momentary thrills. You prefer making love to a destination as opposed to simply getting off.
Dom or Sub
You have two choices when you make your way into the world of travel. You can let the cultural differences of the world dictate your experience, or you can choose to rise above, to control your emotions, to master your conscious self and experience Planet Earth as a fully aware and educated human being. In short, you can choose to be a sub or a dom.
A sub is dominated by their upbringing, their religious beliefs, their cultural brainwashing. It’s all about programming. Just as a computer hard-drive is a piece of hardware that can be formatted over and over again, stripped of all the old data and reprogrammed with new data as the user dictates, your mind operates in the same fashion. It is merely a piece of hardware that is programmed to think and react a certain way based upon the code that you have installed.
In the case of the culturally ignorant, the religiously zealous, and the woefully inexperienced cultural virgins, the mind reacts in a very simplistic way. It is offended by new or different experiences because it has been programmed that way. A Christian viewing a Buddhist/Muslim/Taoist as inferior is the perfect example of this. A visitor from the United States feeling shock and disgust at seeing two 14 year old teenagers drinking beer legally in Bulgaria is another. These are submissive types who are ruled by their emotions and programming, forever destined to have their lives controlled by those who are doing the programming.
A dom is in completely control over their surroundings. They realize that cultural awareness is simply a matter of reprogramming their base system to appreciate cultures on a global scale. They dominate their own existence because they do not take offense at cultural differences, but rather accept them as part of the overall journey. They sit down and drink a beer with the 14 year olds. They accept all religions and spiritual walks on equal terms. They regularly strip their hard-drive and reprogram it with new information at every destination, continually upgrading and modifying their own code to remain relevant in an ever-changing, ever-evolving world.
Dominating your environment is about a return to first premises. It is a relative approach to life. It is the acceptance that every human being on the planet is equal, deserving of the same levels of respect in terms of religion, culture, education and life. It is choosing to explore and appreciate all cultures on an equal level, embracing them with the tender caress of a lover, enjoying each destination for weeks, months and years, immersing yourself in the culture, the people and the destination.
Making Love to Culture
There is a vast difference between the quick, jerky movements of a virgin who gropes and fumbles their way through a destination before reaching an early, uncontrolled climax… and the slow, measured pace of an experienced lover, one who takes their time with each culture, ensuring that they achieve maximum enjoyment from the encounter, and gives as good as they get, sustaining the moment until the last possible second.
The little things are what should be cherished while traveling. Embrace them. Let them intoxicate you with their difference. Revel in the unknown the unexplored, the new, the challenging, the off-the-beaten-path. Approach each destination as a potential conquest meant to be sustained over weeks and months with passion and immersion, not a quick fling soon to be forgotten once the next new shiny comes along, dressed to whore and ready to strip you of your cash.
Allow yourself to explore the full potential of a culture and you will quickly find yourself realizing just what it is that the rest of us slow travelers are talking about. Making love to a destination with the passion of experience is so much more refined than the quick thrusting of the newbie, and leaves you with so much more satisfaction than a one-night stand or weekend fling.
Sub or Dom…which one are you?