No matter what form it takes, travel is trouble. It phases, from the goodbyes to the hellos.

The goodbyes are usually tough. Could be that you do not want to go, or that someone does not want you to go. Sometimes the other person wants to go, but is unable. Sometimes both the way and the ability are there. On occasion, someone is ready to push the door open, other times to push you out. Sometimes the goodbyes change, they are all different but throughout them all one thing is the same. There is always something left behind. A loved one, a young one, a problem, or a toothbrush, something needed is left. If all else works perfectly, there is still something there. You can never take it all with you. A memory, time, a dusty, well-photographed footprint in a windless environment, trash-intended or not, important or not, something always remains.

This is not the trouble with travel.

Arrivals, the hellos, the ‘welcome backs,’ the ‘nice to meet yous,’ the alohas, they too are the same. Someone is glad to see you. Someone is not glad to see you. Someone was waiting to see you; someone could not care less about seeing you. Oftentimes “How was your trip?” is asked. Meaningful time is wasted on meaningless talk.

Speaking of time, you get there on time, you show up early, or schedules run late. These are the only three choices for arriving alive. Why just arriving alive? No one takes a clock to the grave when they die. Timex can take a licking and keep on ticking but kill somebody and then what? Time has no meaning for a corpse. It is as mortals we concern ourselves overly about time. The trip was too quick. The trip was too slow. The trip crossed three time zones and we got here before we left. Time was spent, time was wasted, and time will never be made up, only more time wasted because someone wants to know, “How was the trip?”

This is not the trouble with travel.

Traveling alone, now there is a problem. No one to share the navigation with, no one to talk to, no second opinions, no one to nag you because you took a left in Albuquerque when every silly rabbit knows you should have gone right. Solo travel, good or bad. A heightened state of senses can ease the monotony. Paul traveled alone and wrote many books. Bundy traveled alone and used many hooks. Observe fellow travelers through life, love and miles. Understand them or not, think of them never. Think of them often; speak of them never. Speak of them often; hear from them never. What does it mean, who can be sure? A rhyme without reason is a dangerous fellow.

Traveling together is no sure fire joy either. More sightseeing, more baggage, more logistical problems, stop for the night, stop for gas, take a leak, take a nap, wake them up, pick their brain, and miss the view, ignore other people while they ignore you. To travel alone or to travel with others. Shakespeare was not alone in addressing this quandary.

This is not the trouble with travel.

The part in the middle, from goodbye to hello, this too is all the same. By land, air, water or other mode, nothing truly changes. You leave familiar surroundings to go to un-familiar, or you leave un-familiar surroundings to go to familiar. The best type of travel brings you back home. From familiar to unfamiliar, then back to familiar. On second thought, is it best? On second thought, does it?

The airport, the dock, the building, the station, the terminal, name it what you will: it starts and finishes in some kind of multi-modal facility. Whether it is in your rear-view mirror or your six o’clock position, or dead ahead or just off to port, the departing and arriving are the same. If you are sad to leave you are glad to arrive, if you are glad to leave sadness comes with arrival. Some mix and exchange of emotions occur. If the emotion stays the same, so what? Who cares? Obviously not the traveler.

The middle part of the trip is still left. In a car, the scenery flies by. You see the right side of the road, the left side of the road, or the road to the front or back. You never see all of it. Driving or riding you cannot see it all. In a boat, you see water. No horizon, no land, just water. Are you moving? Who knows? Is it the world moving beneath you? Who cares? Eventually land arrives. When you fly-there is another link. Flight.

Flight boils down travel to its barest essentials. Unless you are the pilot, you never see what is ahead—even then, you do not get a complete picture. Maybe you get a glimpse of the airport from the side or a fly-by. Oh sure, maybe you get lucky and happen to be under 12 and are invited to the cabin or get a glimpse when the flight attendants bring coffee to the pilots, but on most commercial flights hang it up if you want to see where you happen to be heading. This is especially the case after the start of the twenty-first century.

This is not the trouble with travel.

Close to the ground, you see things. Rain on the windows, individual people hustling and bustling about their stupid business. Everyone is in a hurry but no one knows why. The ground melts away. The people become ants and the ants cease to exist. Cars look like toys. Buildings look like toys. Eventually even the ground looks like a grade school diorama.

The clouds look real enough. They have better shape on top. Puffier, more inviting, more pleasant. They look like you could walk on them, roll down them, and curl up inside their puffy, vaporous, pleasing selves. You could never do that with the less than life-sized model of the ground. In the midst of all this thought it hits you, this is what God sees every day. Does he take it for granted as we take trees, and hills, and freedom, and life? What is a brief glimpse for us is a lifelong view for him, and only He can truly appreciate it, certainly not us. We would bore as quickly with it as we do with everything else.

This is definitely not the trouble with travel.

This is detachment from the world. We are as distant from it as it is always from us. Things go on below, that we cannot see. We fly over farms and farmers, cities and pedestrians. Far below someone drives that refuses to fly, someone gets raped, someone gets murdered, someone is born, few would choose to “ooh and ahh” if they happen to see the craft flying miles above their heads, mostly people below just ignore and choose not to see. Life ends, life begins, life goes on. On the ground, no one can see because it happens too close. In the sky, no one can see because it happens too far away. No one sees, no one cares, and the machine rolls on. Time wears down and time rolls on. Eternity ends and eons begin. Eons age and eras pass and the travel continue.

As we near our destination, things again become clear. The clouds again cover us; the ground looms upward. Buildings appear, houses appear, empty streets for houses yet to come appear. Empty streets for houses that once were again are buried further. We see what we want to see, yet that which we choose to ignore continues as well. Give me liberty or give me death. Give me sight, but by God do not let me see.

This is not the trouble with travel.

While traveling, there is nothing we can do to end the travel prematurely. We can speed up, take shortcuts, even decide in mid-journey to stop and go no further, but no matter what we traveled, it got us there. Whether a tree falls to the north or whether a tree falls to the south, there it lies. If it hangs up on the way down, it still ended its travels. We had to get from here to there and it was not instantaneous. Shortsightedness is the worst travel thought. Only concerned with the here and there, the when and why. Do we take the Interstate or the back roads? Do I stop here for gas or hope for another station in twenty miles? When do I sleep, when do I piss, when do I rest? When do they care, when do they see? No matter where you go, there you are. When the clouds are full, the rain falls. Travel is inevitable; use it to the fullest.

Pay attention to the start and the stop, but use the middle to solve the big picture. Did Newton think of gravity when a fig hit his head or when he wondered why he fell down when he was drunk? The travel from upright to prone has made many think. We get a better understanding from an un-biased point of view. The detachment of travel gives us freedom. If only we choose to use it.

This is not the trouble with travel.

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