Generally speaking, I don’t care much for enforced gaiety. Public ceremony, the type of thing that forces or demands or at the least expects a certain type of emotional response from the participants, are all in the category of things I try to avoid. Included: larger parties of any kind, especially weddings and related festivities, cruise ships, large concerts. Basically, I want to have my own reaction to things, and whether it’s the appropriate reaction or an inappropriate reaction I would prefer for it not be a matter of note. So I try to avoid any occasion in which there is an expectation that I may at any moment wave my hands wildly in the air and emit “woohoohooo!”
On the other hand, I actually enjoy public spectacles, like parades, for instance, or sporting events. I’ve really been enjoying watching the Olympics, I know I would also enjoy it if I were watching the games in person — although I’d probably skip the medal ceremonies.
At first this struck me as a bit of a hypocrisy (of which I’m fully capable) but I’ve resolved it. I’ve realized that what I enjoy is theater. That’s it, I don’t mind watching any kind of human revelry, if it clear that I am merely there as a spectator. Even if it’s presumably okay to choose to demur or hang back from participating in an event, I don’t want even the faintest expectation that I might participate.
Spring Break, the Ultimate Wooohooohooo
So needless to say, I was never a big fan of the institution called Spring Break. It all just sounds awful to me. On the other hand, I condone the notion of taking a Break in the Spring, especially if you are living in a cold climate crave colors beyond what can be rendered with black pen and ink. Pictured above is Blue Beach in Vieques, off of Puerto Rico. (Also known as Bahia de Chiva, or Goat Beach.) It’s is a wide stretch of wild beach, not unknown so you will not be entirely alone, yet still crowd unencumbered. I recommend it.
But while you Break from Spring, I also recommend that you spare a thought to the wider context, for instance on Vieques there are very high cancer rates among the residents, most likely due to the fact that US Navy used it as a bombing range for decades. I don’t mean to single out Vieques though, you can go to French Polynesia and contemplate how the French used it for atom bomb testing, or Hawaii and think about how it was that it became annexed as a state, or go anywhere tropical and read A Small Place by Jamaica Kincaid. Every place has its difficulties, there’s plenty of trouble to go around.
Lest You Think Me a Spoilsport
I don’t think widening your lens should interfere with your good time – you’re on vacation, and it’s not up to any one person to solve all of the world’s problems anyway. Which, come to think of it, is the real reason why I dislike public ceremony: it restricts the lens on a narrow band of emotions, when there’s a much wider territory to legitimately wander.
Alison J. Stein
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