You’re on a dream trip in some beautiful, exotic setting. You’re approaching an amazing overlook and you start climbing hurriedly toward the top of the ridge, reaching for your camera. Just then, you crest the summit and see that fifty other people already beat you to it.
None of the places you drool over in travel magazines and on Instagram are a secret. To most experienced travelers, the excitement of approaching the Taj Mahal, Maya Bay, or Salar de Uyuni is tampered by the voice in the back of your head telling you there will probably be a lot more people there than you had hoped. If you don’t have that nagging buzzkill lurking in your head, then the let down is even worse when you do arrive to a huge crowd of people.
So there are two options:
1.) You lie. You wait until you finally get a 4 second break in foot-traffic and you twist and contort your body to take a picture of that overlook with no elbows or shadows in the frame. Your friends see the picture of this “hidden gem” and rave about how beaaaauuuutiful it is. You even lie to yourself, convinced that this is the way it really appeared.
2.) You accept reality. You embrace the fact that the place you are at is crowded for a reason. It’s amazing. Hoards of people flock to that spot you’re at every day because it’s one of the coolest places on earth. Although you’d rather be the first to discover it, you make peace with the fact that it’s still cool.
When you lay it out like that, I think most of us would like to agree that the latter is the more admirable choice. But what if lying isn’t so bad? If you look at it another way, the place is amazing for what it is, not for the people or traffic that surround it. Why not remember it for what makes it great, the way it was likely intended to be seen? I find that when looking back at pictures where I have lied to myself, the memories are all positive feelings and nostalgia. I see it in a perfect light so many times that eventually it becomes my reality. Call it rose colored glasses but is a positive memory built on a lie better than a forgettable experience built on truth?