WHY WORRY? CHAPTER XII
THE WORRIER ON HIS TRAVELS
BY: GEORGE LINCOLN WALTON, M.D.
CONSULTING NEUROLOGIST TO THE MASSACHUSETTS GENERAL HOSPITAL
THE WORRIER ON HIS TRAVELS
After all, is it not a part of the fine art of living to take the enjoyment of the moment as it comes without lamenting that it is not something else?
--LILIAN WHITING: Landof Enchantment
In no phase of life is the worrying and the "fussy" habit more
noticeable than in travel. This is, perhaps, partly because the lack of
self-confidence, which so often unsettles the worrier, is peculiarly
effective when he has relinquished the security of his accustomed
anchorage. This applies surely to the over-solicitous attention paid by
the traveler to the possible dangers of rail and sea. Here is a verse from
"'Suppose that this here vessel,' says the skipper with a groan,
'Should lose 'er bearin's, run away and bump upon a stone;
Suppose she'd shiver and go down when save ourselves we could'nt.'
The mate replies,
'Oh, blow me eyes!
Suppose agin she shouldn't?'"
A common direction taken by the worrying habit, in the traveler, is that
of taking in advance each step of the journey, preparing for every
contingency, and suffering beforehand every imaginable hardship and
inconvenience. I do not vouch for the story (though I can match it without
going far afield) of the gentleman who abandoned his trip from Paris to
Budapesth because he found he would be delayed in Vienna six hours, "too
long time to wait in the station, and not long enough to go to the hotel."
It is the imperative duty of every traveler to discover interests which
shall tide him over a few hours' delay wherever it may occur.
It is by no means a waste of time to familiarize ourselves with the
geography at least of our own country; to know the situation and appearance
of every city of importance, and to know something about the different
railroads besides their initials, and their rating in the stock market.
Again, if we take up the study of the trees, flowers and birds, with the
aid of the admirable popular works now available, we shall not only view
the scenery with new eyes, but shall welcome, rather than be driven to
despair, by a breakdown in the woods.
It is a mistake to shun our fellow-travelers, from whom we should rather
try to learn something. This is a solace in traveling alone, for the boon
companion may handicap us in cultivating new acquaintances and gaining new
impressions. Though the main object of recreation is diversion from the
daily round of thought, the fact need not be lost sight of that the busy
man will find his practical interests furthered, rather than hindered, by
a little widening of the horizon. Nor should he forget, meantime, the
admonition of Seneca that if he would wish his travels delightful he must
first make himself delightful.
It is inevitable that uncomfortable, as well as agreeable, experiences
occur in travel. But the man who spends his time and thought in avoiding
the one and seeking the other is steadily forging chains whose gall shall
one day surpass the discomforts of a journey around the world. Arthur Benson in "Beside Still Waters" says that Hugh learned one thing at school,
namely, that the disagreeable was not necessarily the intolerable. Some of
us would do well to go back to school and learn this over again. I know of
only two ways by which the discomforts of travel can be avoided. One is to
ignore them, the other to stay at home.
A fellow traveler told me that on one occasion, in the presence of a
beautiful bit of mountain scenery, he overheard two ladies in anxious
consultation comparing, article by article, the corresponding _menus_ of
two rival hotels. The fact that three varieties of fish were offered
at one, while only two were offered at the other, opened so animated a
discussion of quantity as opposed to probable quality that the listener
A lady on the Florida express, after reading a novel all day with an
occasional interim, during which she gazed through her lorgnette with bored
and anxious air, finally said to her companion, "I have not seen a single
estate which compares to those in Brookline."
Among the varieties of needless worry imposed upon the traveler by the
insistent habit, none is more common, or more easily overcome, than the
refusal to sleep unless noise and light are quite shut out. If the sufferer
make of his insistent habit a servant, rather than a master, and instead of
reiterating "I must have quiet and darkness," will confidently assert, "I
must get over this nonsense," he will speedily learn that freedom from
resentment, and a good circulation of air, are more conducive to sleep than
either darkness or silence.
The best drug for the sleepless traveler is the æquo animo of Cicero.
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