Stories from the journey of fatherhood & brotherhood

3 Reasons We Should Live Like Tourists

Feb 28, 2021

Act like you’ve been there.

This is one of my favorite manifestos. It evokes imagery of the weathered old guy who has seen it all. Countless miles and experiences have calloused your hands and broken in your gear. You’re unfazed, seasoned, and tested. You are what every man longs to be….competent.

This stands in sharp contrast to the tourist. By definition the tourist is someone who hasn’t been there before. To make matters worse, they don’t care that they haven’t been there before. Their embarrassing and obvious inexperience shows like the unsuspecting toilet paper attached to a shoe after a bathroom visit. 

I want to live like I’ve been there before. But that’s not always possible. What is possible however, is to not be a tourist. If I can’t fake my way as a grizzled raft guide, then at all costs make sure I’m not a dawdling oblivious tourist with my camera and binoculars stacked around my neck.

Our family just spent a week in Florida where we were complete tourists. Maybe I’ve gone soft, but after a week of medium rare sunburns and eight million pictures taken, I’m beginning to see the wisdom of tourists, especially for us as men. Here are 3 ways we can live more like tourists in our normal life:


  1.  Buy More Souvenirs 

    On our second day in Florida we stopped by a souvenir shop that felt like a 3,000 square foot cliche. What possible benefit could there be in $23 pink t-shirts, key chains, and stickers that boast your touristyness? They force us to remember life’s goodness. In a world obsessed with efficiency and production, even the simplest tchotchke can enable us to pause, and remember the shrieks of delight from our kids as they sprinted to see the ocean for the first time. 

    Could it be that the more souvenirs we buy the more willing we are to mark experiences as worthy of remembering? The physicality of an object preserves the meaning in memories that otherwise would dim with time. So go buy the hokiest magnet you can find, and let it remind you of an experience too important to forget.

  2. Point, marvel, and be awestruck

    The beaches we visited are famous for their shells. Not in a spot a scallop every 10 yards kind of way, more like Sophie the Silver Shell fairy discovered the ancient spell that turned sand into shells. (Can you tell my daughters are 7 and 8 and love to read books about fairies?)

    Needless to say all of us landlocked Coloradoans were blown away by the riches of shells. We ran along the beach and dug frantically through the sand amazed by the treasure that seemed to have no end. And when the sought after ‘noodle shell’ was found (costate horn snail is the official name), we shouted to one another to come see our latest discovery - as if the magical place might somehow disappear if we didn’t gulp it in. 

    The shells were abundant and rich. How could our enjoyment not be the same? 

    The newness of a place opens the tourist. Familiarity hasn’t yet sanded away beauty. They stand dripping with wonder, pointing and marveling at God’s grace that is new to them again. 

  3. Ditch The Self image

    External appearance is critical to the ‘act like you’ve been there’ manifesto. Make sure you have the right gear (bonus points awarded if its sun bleached, frayed, or worn) and you look the part, because image matters.

    What possible benefit could there be in neglecting your self image through the application of 14 layers of SPF 60 onto your sun starved skin?

    There’s no pressure.

    It’s abundantly clear to anyone not legally blind that you’re not from around here, so bask in the glory of image expectations that don’t have to be met. Act liking you’ve been there requires you to act. There’s an insincerity to this manifesto, one that asks you to constantly put aside who you really are in exchange for a false persona of competency.

    So go ahead,  be mistaken as a beached albino whale on the beach, ski in jeans down the slopes, all free of the burden of image management. 

 “A saint is not someone who does good, but experiences the goodness of God.” 

-Brennan Manning

May you go this week as a tourist (and a saint) who has experienced God’s goodness in new ways.

Jesse French
Restoration Project Chief of Next Steps



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