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Go Your Own Way

■ 15 March 2013 by James Martin

The web is full of advice for the traveler.

Do this! Go here! Don’t miss this! Don’t ever, ever do that!

It’s all rather like coming across a tub full of advertising dwarfs with too many exclamation points on their hands. They’re all speaking at once. “40% less fat in the Val d’Orchia! Guaranteed!”

Looking at it from another angle, what if everyone who declared they’d “died and gone to heaven” after gobbling down the “King of Pastry!” pasteis de belem actually did so? It’s obvious that the earth would be barren of travelers to Portugal. The internet would be 37% faster after being liberated from the weight of the pages devoted to gushing over simple monastic pastry, too.

Yes, after their demise you could wander Portugal unencumbered by tourists. Don’t try this in Heaven, of course, it’s packed with fat people.

In any case, the travel planning season is upon us and I’m already reeling from the questions I get. It’s always a minor variation of the same one: “Where should I go? I’m thinking Europe. Have any recommendations for me, a person you don’t know from Adam?”

I just found out that instead of rolling my tired eyes, I could just follow the lead of the Cheshire cat, grinning all the way. Yes, I stole the quote below from Chris Kimble’s Facebook page.

One day Alice came to a fork in the road and saw a Cheshire cat in a tree.
“Which road do I take?” she asked.
“Where do you want to go” was his response.
“I don’t know,” Alice answered.
“Then,” said the cat, “it doesn’t matter.”

It doesn’t matter! Yes, that’s what I’m trying to tell you!

You see, I will tirelessly tell you about places, draw you maps, help you navigate the paths you desire. It’s my chosen job. But if I wanted to tell you where, exactly, to go, I’d be your private dictator, and there’s very little call for those, even if public ones are in demand these days.

I’d surely be out of work the minute I told you the answer was Mango anyway. You’d fire me.

Then you’d call me lazy.

So it’s easy. Don’t travel for other people and don’t gush over the sweet pastries on the internet. (Soon they’ll start slipping Aspartame into your milk anyway…and your life will be sweeter than it ever was before and you won’t even know why.)

Pick a fork. Any fork. It doesn’t matter. Look at all the resources available to you on this site or other sites and just go your own way. Revelation is just around the next bend, I promise you. (Leviticus too, but don’t take that path. It’s way too crowded these days.)

(Oh, and apologies to Fleetwood Mac for the title.)

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Go Your Own Way originally appeared on WanderingItaly.com Mar 15, 2013, © James Martin.

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