A few years back, I went to Rome with my family for a summer vacation. We walked around and marveled over all the ancient buildings, filled with history, beauty and grandeur.

One of the places we visited was the Vatican state, with its Vatican museum, Sistine Chapel and St. Peter’s Basilica. We went there around noon one day, sleeping in and taking our time. These are highly interesting places to see, which also means a lot of other people were already there. The line for the Vatican museum was about four blocks long, and the line for St. Peter’s Basilica was about as long. Fortunately three of the four blocks was in the shade, since this was during summer and on a very hot day.

A tour guide picked us up as we stood around eyeballing the lines. She offered to take us through the Sistine Chapel and directly into St. Peter’s Basilica, skipping one of the lines. Needless to say, we took the offer. She talked about the history of the place, the architecture and everything else that tour guides excel at talking about as we stood in the line for hours.

As we entered the museum we were greeted with something akin to an air port security check. The contents of my backpack meant I had to leave it in a security locker there, to pick it up on the way out. We went through the place jam packed with people to the point of exhaustion, not having much time or energy to see anything in detail. The Sistine Chapel in particular was so full of people it was hard to get much out of the experience beyond discomfort.

Heading out to the shortcut we were supposed to take, it became apparent that I would not be able to both take that route and get my pack back — the museum would likely be closed by the time I had a chance come back to the entrance. I skipped the shortcut and left the museum the normal way (which included a fair bit of more museum, by the way, so it was not all negative), and waited outside for my family to make its way with the masses of people through St. Peter’s Basilica.

In all, it was a full day that left us all pretty much all exhausted. We went back to our hotel to rest, and only afterward did my brother recall that he had wanted to buy a jigsaw puzzle of the Sistine Chapel ceiling painting.

The story could end here, and it would be nothing but a story on how I missed out on an experience. I was not content to miss out on the St. Peter’s Basilica however. As we neared the end of our stay, I got up early one morning and headed out. I took the subway over around 8 AM, walked through the empty security checks and in through the door without a hint of a line.

The place was stunning, and nearly empty. As I walked around, morning sunlight spilled in through the windows above the entrance and basked the place in a brilliant light. I took my time, unstressed by any jostling mass of people, and left with a marvelous feeling of the beauty of the place about an hour later.

As I walked away, gift shops were just about to open. I sat in the shade and enjoyed the view, bought my brother a jigsaw puzzle and headed back to the hotel before my family had awakened, full of energy for the day to come.

I find that the moral of the story applies to many things in life. If you care to get up early and chase your desires with determination, you may often come away with an easier and better experience than those who are simply content with sleeping in and going with the flow. Being lazy often ends up being more draining in the end than being determined and willing to stand the discomfort of extra effort up front.