Sunday, November 14, 2010


So, a friend of mine recently invited me on a trip down to Dollywood, Dolly Parton's theme park in Pigeon Forge, Tennessee, with another friend of his.

However, I declined. It's not that I don't think Dollywood would be enjoyable, it's just that he was proposing some sort of week-long bike trek down. I might bike for Disney World, but he says that costs too much and, besides, he really likes Dolly, not Disney. For me though, no Dollywood. Maybe if we were taking a plane. Maybe.

Well, I heard back from him today. The trip was actually rather tiring, of course, and cold. But they were quite motivated by their intense desire to do homage at the Queen of Country's carnival (and he insists she is, all rivals for that title aside). Their excitement to arrive actually caused the trip, in anticipation, to be rather fun, he said. They expected the park to be spectacular, "It had better be, or why are we putting so much effort and anticipation into getting there?"

Then they actually get to Dollywood. And, well, it was Dollywood: it's okay. But just okay. It certainly didn't live up to their expectations or justify the hundreds of miles of biking. In fact, though it may have been mildly enjoyable in itself, he said it was frankly more important to them at that point merely that the long journey was over and that they had a chance to rest anywhere. The enjoyment of Dollywood itself was less satisfying even than just being able to come down off his frenzy of anticipation for Dollywood.

So, the journey and anticipation were really worth more than the destination anticipated. And yet, they only took the journey in the first place for that reason. They only got so excited about getting to that destination! (Strenuous and wind-chilled biking in itself certainly didn't do anything for them.) And yet, the real satisfaction came merely in having the journey be done with and being able to get down off that anticipation and stop biking for a while. The excitement of the journey, the escalating desire to reach the destination that drove them onward, and then finally merely being done with that journey...all wound up worth more than the actual destination itself.

And yet, astoundingly to me, he's planning to make the same trip again next year for that very reason. Even if I can understand the appeal of the excitement of the journey, I don't really understand how it can ever be the same now that he knows that Dollywood isn't that great in itself, or how he can ever get that anticipatory excitement dynamic of the journey again now that he knows the destination doesn't live up to it. But...whatever. Maybe the anticipation of anticipation will be enough?

This story is total fiction, by the way. Still, doesn't the whole thing sound like an incredibly frustrating experience? I say, Disney World or bust.

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