The Road to Happiness
“Where do I belong?” “Is this truly happiness?” “What else is there in this world?” “What do I want?” These are the questions that most people ask themselves when they are trying to decide whether they are happy or not. Although we ask ourselves about happiness, do we truly know what happiness is? Happiness is the reason that people leave their homes; they leave in search of something that returns them to a blissful time in our lives. Taylor Gilley and Lawrence Osborne both travel to places in the world, in an attempt to find a place that returns them to a place that they felt comfortable and reminded them of a good memory. We find happiness in the simple times in our lives, regardless of what we have to do or where we have to go to find it.
Lawrence Osborne is a British novelist that has written many novels and has won many awards. In the book, “The Naked Tourist” he talks about his search for his own Shangri-La or utopia that has not been affected by globalization. Lawrence Osborne travels from country to country in order to find a place that makes him feel simple and not overwhelmed, a place that makes him feel like there are no worries in the world. Sort of like a child.
Everyone has his or her own perfect place. It does not matter whether it is the perfect place or not, as long as you are happy. The idea of a perfect place, or a paradise, has been sought out since ancient times. Osborne talks about fake paradises that offer a fake happiness when he says, “Whichever place gets to call itself Shangri-La is assured a windfall of tourist dollars; people will flock there, drawn simply by the name”(202). This is because Osborne, like many others, is searching for a place they can go that has not been corrupted or “touristified” by the country. The promise of a perfect place is compelling enough to attract people that are searching for something to make them feel at peace. Many countries began to try and gain a profit by embracing the natural lives of the locals as a way of attracting more tourists, to gain money. Osborne explains that certain countries use tourism as a way of making money by saying, “Tourism is a system that is imposed by large economic concerns, usually hotel and resort chains, and with a brutal suddenness in the postwar era”(185). Lawrence is stating that a country in economic turmoil would do anything including resorting to building hotels and resort chains to make their lives easier. Money has affected how countries have evolved from a close-knit family unit, to a society that values money. They value money enough to rebuild their society, and earn money by attracting tourist to live and contaminate them with western ideas. In 40 years the number of travelers has increased by about 400 million (Hundt). The idea of traveling to a perfect place where everything is normal or uncorrupted is a psychoanalytic mind set (Hundt), which makes the person feel as though he is a child or in a fairy tale where everything is perfect and blissful.
Osborne travels the world in order to find happiness or a place where he can relive his childhood. At one point Osborne begins to question himself. Osborne says, “The physical visiting of something that exists only inside the realm of ideas-is this a western folly?”(Osborne 202). Osborne believes that people travel to find happiness that is able to live up to the idea that literature has given us. With the age of technology people began to move away from the simple things in life, and with the help of globalization western ideas have spread around the world. Osborne is traveling the world in search of a place that has not been contaminated by western ideas or values, but instead still believes in primitive ideas or a close-knit society. Osborne is looking for a wonderland that is able to take him back to his childhood days, where he is happy, just like in a fairy tale where everything is simple and not overflowing with economic issues.
Not only does literature influence how we view the world, but so does the media (Adler). As westerners or just living in the 21st century, we are accustomed to having to watch what we say or what we do because we are worried of the judgment that may accompany it. The fairy tale we are searching for is more than just a place we can be happy, but it is also a place where we can escape the world we live in. The key to Osborne’s happiness involves a place where they have no technology, no media, no modernization, or economic trouble haunting them.
Taylor Gilley on the other hand comes from a different country and has different characteristics then Osborne, but they both travel in search for a place that can make them happy. Taylor is an 18-year-old Roanoke College student that is from Fredericksburg, Virginia. In High School, Taylor was a member of the FFA and even though she is no longer a high school student she still tries to be as involved as possible. While in High School she was the Vice President of the FFA and it was her job to help the president and ensure stability in the organization. Taylor decided to attend Roanoke College and major in Biology, with a concentration in veterinary science however, although she likes Roanoke, she was not completely happy.
You can live somewhere for a long time and still feel as though you don’t belong because something is missing. Taylor Gilley is a student at Roanoke College and although she likes the school she feels as though Roanoke is not the place for her. Taylor began to feel this way when she went to Louisville, Kentucky for a competition involving the FFA. Returning to a place she loved made her feel as though she wasn’t happy. When she returned Taylor said, “I have learned that I liked where I was at RC Place, but I loved where I was in Spotsylvania“(Gilley). Taylor did enjoy her time at Roanoke, but she didn’t love it. She fell in love with Spotsylvania, which is where Clemson University is located. She felt that Spotsylvania was the place for her because Clemson offered something that Roanoke did not offer. They offered a connection to her past. Clemson was able to give her exactly what she wanted; they offered a collegiate level FFA organization, which is what made her happy in High School and now she is hoping that it will maker her happy once again.
Although we can find a place that is temporarily home or feels wonderful and makes us happy, if it is not perfect for the person, they will continue to move until they find a place that does make them happy. “I needed an institution that gave me the opportunity to personally thrive. My heart and head are stuck in the FFA” (Gilley). A happiness that is able to carry on throughout her life and will remind her of something that makes her happy. In Taylor’s case it is being a part of the FFA or the Future Farmers of America. Since Roanoke is unable to provide her with what she wants to pick up and leave to Clemson, where they offer what she needs or wants in order to be happy and remind her of a time in her life where she felt, what she was doing is the right thing. “RC Place is a great place. However, it is not my place”(Gilley). Although Taylor is “happy” at Roanoke College she believes there is something else out there that can give her that happiness that she is searching for.
The search for a paradise that has been untouched by civilization or the idea of a place becoming a home where you can hone your skills and return to the blissful childhood or fairy tale life is what most of us seek in life. When Osborne is evaluating his experience in Tambunam, he says, “Tambunam, where change is still in the making, repetition binds the present to the past and to the future; repetition binds the events all of us recall to the events that now will be recorded” (Osborne 270). Lawrence and Taylor both look to their past in order to help them find their true happiness. Lawrence looks to the past for a simpler way of living, while Taylor looks at her past for a time when she truly happy and wants that to be apart as her future as well. Lawrence Osborne, Taylor Gilley, and many other people in the world have to leave their homes in order to find a place that makes them happy. Although, there are many beautiful places that attract many people the ultimate “tourist” seeks a place, whether it is domestic or international, where they can feel they belong and feel as though they are living in a fairy tale filled with happiness.
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Hundt, Anna. “Impact of Tourism Development on the Economy and Health of Third
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