Luxury is another word we avoid. Odd since we often eat like epicureans, sleep on fine linens when we can, and comfort is generally a creature we adore. But not odd, considering the work we do, and where we do it. Not all things can or should be available in all places, especially if conservation is the point, and collaborating with communities is the means to the end. Our friend and future Contributor Reyna hints that she will have a thing or two to say about this in the future. With regard to rethinking luxury, the Galapagos Islands provide a superb vantage point.
Why rethink it? That is, why do we avoid this ubiquitous word? OED tells us that this noun refers first and foremost to “lasciviousness, lust”. That is a good enough reason, for starters. By the third entry the definition eases up a bit, to “the habitual use of, or indulgence in what is choice or costly…” but still not much to write home about. The first ray of light is in the fourth entry, depending on a snippet of Dryden to poetically license us to re-visualize luxury: “Hard was their Lodging, homely was their Food; For all their Luxury was doing Good.”
But we do not need to go back 300 years, get too poetic, nor be preachy about it. Liberating this word may start with the therapeutic effects of pristine wilderness areas; the opportunity to disconnect on occasion from our normal, wired modern lives; the privilege of getting to know communities of people whose lives are different from our own. In short, some of the reasons why people travel. And if we can consider this lust for life, luxury is inevitable.