One last trip through London town on a cold November evening. The condensation of the bus windows gives dazzling bokeh to the bright lights of this global capital. Slowly we shunt through the traffic, watching the panic buying trinket seekers, satisfying Christmas consumer demands. Crowds of people eager not to miss out.
Now, now we’re off. And I’m mid way through rare beef fillet and a good way down a fine chateauneuf du pape, mid Atlantic on the BA2239 to Peru.
Secretly, (irony of blog post concept not lost on me here) I’m glad, once again, to be avoiding this. Thinking back I’ve been taking extended trips away from the UK for the past 20 years.
Each time I’ve left, each announcement, no matter how humbly made, I’ve faced the same criticism; ‘its career suicide’, ‘when are you going to grow up’ and ‘other predictably obvious sentiments from the entrenched, established and/or envious” Frankly it only spurs me on. (Thank you Reinhold Messner – ‘There is no right way, nor wrong way, only your own way”, or perhaps even better, Tolkien’s ’”Not all those who wander are lost” #PrententiousButItHelps)
Yea God the grey hairs and ‘laughter lines’, I will charitably call ‘em, I’ve collected on these trips! Along with an awareness of “The Big Risk”. The risk that one becomes immune to the fun, the novelty, and the excitement. I am aware of it, but I also know what I am travelling for. To mangle some Nieztche in here: “to be sure of the why, I can be happy with almost any how”
And what is the why? Same as it always is. The visual and cultural novelty, obviously, but more importantly time.
Time to take an unhurried view of the world, to see without rush, to be able to focus on the present without the distraction of having to be elsewhere, or the invasive ‘push notification of factoid blasts of social snippets delivered to my pocket’
All this travel, ‘to go to the other end of the world to see what people routinely ignore at home’.
Riding through town last week on my bicycle I nearly ran into a tourist. Eyes glued to her handheld jab-screen (smart phone), middle of the road, oblivious to surroundings, and oncoming traffic it would appear. I stopped and looked to see what she had risked life and limb to add to her feed… T’was the gothic palace that houses The house of Commons. A world renown UNESCO site.
I pass it almost daily.
As I went about my round of errands and catch-ups I reflected on where my daily circuit had taken me. It reads like a list of the TOP TEN THINGS TO SEE IN LONDON IN 24 HOURS (#SEO skillzz?) Tower Bridge, West Minister Abbey, St. Paul’s Cathedral, The Tower of London, the Shard and the Tate etc etc. I am glad to live in a city that people consider a once in a life time trip to come and experience. The irony of leaving it to ‘go and see the world’ is not lost on me, given the world comes here, and I routinely fail to engage in their stories.