Remember that first passage of time when you loved another human being? How mentally and physically consuming it was? Those emotions and feelings aren’t so very different from any of our other passions are they? A passion for gardening or cycling or politics or, in my case, travel also contains that desire and/or tendency to consume and be consumed by….
However, unfortunately or fortunately, many passions cool over time including our ‘consuming’ love for another person, gardening, biking or, yes, even travel. Where am I going with this you ask? I will quickly say that I’m not contemplating giving up travel yet…can’t really, given all of the plane and train tickets already purchased for this year…and the places I still must go out there in the world. But…maybe…the temperature of this passion has decreased by a degree or two, a sort of reverse global warming.
It’s the little things. In the past, even sitting exhaustedly in a crowded airport lounge, when flights to other cities were announced I would feel a tingle of interest, a modicum of longing. Now, I’m like ‘Just take me home, okay.’ Of course the fact that I’m always on Southwest Airlines when in the states and the announcement is probably about boarding for Orange County or Des Moines could have something to do with the missing thrill.
Also sadly true is the increased regimentation, unfriendliness, discomfort, lack of amenities of travel. It is the absolute truth that I’ve been on long distance buses in the ‘barely-developing world’ that are several times better in every above mentioned category. The general check-in experience at airports in the ‘white world’ did originally have a lot to do with 9-11 but it continues in an ever-enhanced climate of well-armed hate that still isn’t true across the globe. Discomfort, well that’s about money/corporate greed. Ditto lack of amenities. What I’m saying is that getting to and returning from other places in ever more unwelcoming conveyances is in no small measure responsible for the diminution of my travel lust.
Happily I have a long railway journey coming up in late October. Is it possible I’m more excited about that than the forthcoming trips along the Silk Route or eating walleye in Minnesota? Three days, two nights in my own compartment on a train from Albuquerque to Wilmington, Delaware. My love for trains has been stated ad nauseam—some East Indian trains exempted. All others—European, Russian, Mongolian, Chinese, Burmese are unqualifiedly adored. And buses all over Europe, Africa, Asia and the Caribbean. I love them all. US trains are okay, maybe not up to a shared compartment on the trans-Siberian Express, but okay. And a whole compartment to myself across most of the country with meals in the dining car and books to read and thoughts to think. Perfect.
But wait, this post is about the perceived cooling of my travel passion. It is true. I do look forward to future trips with a slightly reduced enthusiasm…really…but if a rich uncle (the one from Nigeria or Panama for example) actually sent me a whole bunch of money would I still want to go to every country in the world…all 89 more (197 total minus the 108 so far visited)…Would I Go? Duh! I would have to wouldn’t I? Since I’ve already been on Indian trains what is there left to fear. Perhaps South Sudanese buses? Or unheated ships in the Arctic Ocean? Or a giant cruise ship going pretty much anywhere?
Wow. Hard to kill off all passions. You see that old lover across the street, maybe a moment of fine memories; You see a map, increased heart rate/strong sense of longing...that old passion rears its still desiring head. Okay, apparently I’m not in the final final throes of de-passionization. (Note paragraph on train travel!) I can feel it coming though. Next year perhaps…