I am have been travelling quite a bit recently – a different city and a different conference for three weekends of the past four. Venturing from the sublime (U2 academic conference in Durham, NC) to the ridiculous (was in a booth across from a disco dancing Yeti under a mirror ball blaring the Michael Jackson back catalog at the YS National Youth Workers Convention in LA) to the somber and informative (the AYME conference where I gave a paper on racial identity in teens in Louisville, KY), in the immortal words of Jerry Garcia – “oh what a long strange trip it’s been.”
I am pretty beat up after all this travelling and frankly marvel as frequent business travelers who keep up this pace. It is utterly de-humanizing to be travelling those distances in that period of time. I was bumped up to first class on one leg of a trip and got a taste of what happens to people who travel that much – people shoving their overhead luggage into you so they can secure a spot, barking at the stewardess for yet another drink, grunting at the elderly as they attempt to get off the plane with limited mobility. I kept thinking “so THIS is what the boys in William Golding’s “Lord of the Flies” would have become if they had traveled by plane as opposed to ship…”
Being bone tired makes you realize your limits and on a spiritual level offers a space to consider what it is that makes us human. Exhaustion is the end of the bell curve and I am beginning to see it as the polar opposite from imagination. The lack of human intimacy, the frantic blur of locales and yet the utter banality of hotel rooms in drab sameness, the lack of distinctiveness in food all add up to a vacuum that provides no resources nor encouragement to even consider possibilities and a vision larger than just making it through another metal detector and TSA strip search.
Frankly, I am too tired to even know what to do with this… but at least I am home to think about it.