Life and the Pursuit of the Authentic Experience

We all crave authentic experiences. Something new, something different, something unique, something uplifting and emotionally valuable.

Those authentic experiences — they’re what potentially make our day-to-day realities exciting, invigorating even. They give meaning to the nagging, unanswered questions we pursue. They interrupt our routines to remind us that, yeah, life is pretty damn cool sometimes.

Problem is, the concept of the “authentic experience” is somewhat of a myth. Where can you find those authentic experiences in a world overly saturated with guidebook friendly tours and prepackaged cultural gimmicks? These days, with the “best kept secrets” on everyone’s to-do list, how are you to discover the unheard of, or explore the uncharted?

While this may have been a new experience for me, it was by no means authentic. Fishy foot pedicure in Cambodia. Hey, it came with a free beer as advertised.

While this may have been a new experience for me, it was by no means authentic. Fishy foot pedicure in Cambodia. Hey, it came with a free beer as advertised.

The path has been beaten to a pulp, my friend. Those authentic experiences have already been had. Just about everyone has camped with the Bedouin, or paid to have a school of hungry fish strip dead skin off their feet, or tipped back a few too many jars of homemade chicha.

So the fringe experience seekers push on, desperately hoping to encounter what little authenticity remains.

Those authentic experiences, though — maybe they’re abundant, maybe they’re right there in front of us just waiting to happen. Maybe it’s just a matter of absorbing what the world gives you and saying, yeah, life is pretty damn cool sometimes. Even if this experience I’m having has been reenacted a million times.

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4 comments

  1. Yes! For me, it isn’t what people have done before, or even measuring myself against them. It’s finding those things (usually) still a little off the well-trod path, and experiencing it for myself.
    That’s what makes the experience for me.

  2. The authenticity lies in the unique perspective each person brings to the experience. It is not about doing something no one else has done but doing something YOU have never done before.

  3. Each traveler can have a better experience off the arranged tour if they plan to fill a half day with something that feeds their passion. Exploring how something of high interest is enjoyed in another place can enrich the person so much. I just came back from a trip to California-a business trip for my husband…and used the time he was busy to explore food markets. What fun! Authentic experiences do not have to be spine tinglng! LOL

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