“Stop being a tourist,” implores Thomas Ricker at The Verge. The article is a bit of a chuckle, if not a tad bombastic. But it does get around to a critical distinction, an observed life is not the same as an examined life.

“Be an explorer. The cause of my angst isn’t the bumbling vacationer. The tourist against whom I rage — of whom I fear becoming — is more the physical embodiment of the claim that, “the unexamined life is not worth living.” No, that’s not Socrates beseeching us to Instagram last night’s risotto, but a reminder to explore the path less traveled and consciously participate with, not just observe, our surroundings. The internet and smartphones have made us all tourists, gawking at our own lives.”

Yep. But I’m not sure we know how to participate with our surroundings any more, and it goes deeper than the internet and smartphones.

Here’s Richard Rohr quoting Martin Buber: “There is an I-thou relationship. Martin Buber said an I-it relationship is when we experience everything as commodity, useful, utilitarian. But the I-thou relationship is when you can simply respect a thing as it is without adjusting it, naming it, changing it, fixing it, controlling it, or trying to explain it.”

Yep. So take the path less travelled, and put this in your back pocket to take with you:

“Learn how to see. Realize everything connects to everything else.” ~Leonardo Da Vinci

And while you’re there try like hell to not experience everything as commodity, useful or utilitarian. It’s really really hard. Also, don’t adjust, name, change, fix, control or explain everything. That’s even more really hard.

Then, and only then, are you allowed to take a picture of it.

EXTRA DOUBLE BONUS: Here’s a related article by my friend Trevor Meier over at Domain7. It’s about photography revealing how we can train our intuitive mind.

In other words, mindless photo clicking can dull our seeing and contribute to our being tourists of our own lives. Or photograhy can help us see well and contribute to a truly examined life.