There was a fascinating piece in The New Yorker recently about a man who, in the 1960s, bought a motel just so he could spy on his guests. He had always been captivated by other people’s private moments, by how differently they behave when they think they’re alone. He admits he also wanted to see them have sex.
The article is fascinating for many reasons (check it out here). But perhaps the owner’s most interesting discovery was that human beings are quite typically miserable on vacation.
Alain de Botton has written about this phenomenon: that our vacations never actually resemble the week of bliss and relaxation we expect them to be. In his short documentary The Art of Travel, he describes the hilarious—and all-too-familiar—way in which his long-awaited Mediterranean cruise unfolds as a parade of mild disappointments, even though there was nothing particularly wrong with any of it.
Getting what we want, or think we want—in those brief moments when we actually do—always seems to be more complicated and fraught than what we pictured.
But maybe getting what we want isn’t really what we want in life. Read More