I recently saw a post my cousin shared on facebook. It was an article about age, culture, expectations, and desires. It can be found here: I’m Turning 25, And I’d Rather Spend My Money On Travel Than On A House, A Wedding, Or A Child. I opened it with a little trepidation. It wasn’t because I distrust my cousin’s taste. Mainly, I was concerned that it might be hostile to those who didn’t share the author’s opinion. To give you some context, I’m 27, my wife is 25, we own a home and get to celebrate our son Ignatius every day (some days that celebration starts way earlier than we would have planned). After reading the article, I discovered that my reservations were unwarranted. Instead of feeling like I had to defend how my life differs from the author’s, I just wanted to say, “Yeah! You go see the world. When you get back, share your experience with me and I’ll share my experience with you, maybe, by then, my son will have hair.” This thought caused me to link two ideas that had always been separate to me; living vicariously and hospitality.
My generation has a very jaded view of living vicariously and yet it is a part of our daily lives. We hate the concept that was presented in our angsty teen movies. The plot might go a little something like this. The father of a teen forces his son to play football when all he really wanted to do was dance, because dad never made it as an athlete. Or any variation on that story line. Simultaneously, we are reality show addicts with a vast appetite for Youtube, Vine, Snapchat, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and any other means by which we can begin to share someone’s experience. Which, ironically, is the definition of vicarious. So, we hate, and rightly so, the idea of someone forcing our choices so they can use us to gain experiences they never had. However, we embrace the idea of being invited into someone else’s lived experiences. I take that as an indicator that we long for genuine hospitality.Sometimes we reduce hospitality to entertaining guests in our home. We contrive it to be merely the mental check list of greeting them warmly, taking their coats, offering a drink, providing food, and maintaining a clean environment. All of these externals are good, but the virtue of hospitality involves more than welcoming someone into a building or a physical space. Hospitality is about inviting someone into my life. It is an act of inviting someone to experience my life through me. To become, if you will, a vicarious participant in my life. It is inviting them to experience and share in the joys, struggles, beauty, and fulfillment of my life and to in turn allow them to share theirs with me.
I bring this up because if this 25 year old feels the need to defend herself in her decision to travel the world, I assume one of two things.
Either, she is trying to convince herself, despite certain doubts, that this is how she wants to live right now.
Or, we are doing a poor job of being hospitable. Instead of sharing our lives we are selling them, and she isn’t buying. So she has prepared the “give it up sales person, I’m not interested” speech.
Honestly, I think the latter is more likely.
That doesn’t mean there aren’t reasons I didn’t make the choices the author is making. I don’t secretly wish I could live her life. But I do want to say,
Dear 25 year old that wants to travel the world,
Sure I could write a bunch of stuff about wisdom, keeping commitments, and responsibility, but as an adult I assume you’ve already considered all of that. So, you don’t have to defend yourself to me. Just promise to remember hospitality; we’ll invite you into our families and we ask that you invite us into your travels.