Sunday, 18 April 2010

on clouds and time travel

would you believe it: after two hundred years of sleep - well, almost. apparently eyjafjallajökull last erupted (on and off for fourteen months) between 1821 and 1823. and now that giant is fuming again and thousands of people are stranded across europe. at first, it sounded surreal, like something out of a 1960s science-fiction novel. a big cloud. over europe. stopping the whole continent in its tracks. and yet this is really happening. no one knows how long this is going to last. while people are arguing back and forth if it is indeed the right decision to halt air traffic altogether (that whole discussion is even more surreal, if you ask me), train ticket prices are rocketing and strangers are forming ad hoc travel groups to rent cars and reach their destinations.

it makes me think how much travel - not only air travel - has become part of our lives. in not such a distant past, people had to travel by train, by ship, by coach, on horseback, or on foot. and many people didn't travel at all. because they neither had the means to, nor the time. and travel as an enjoyment in itself, rather than the simple task of getting from a to b, has long been a privilege of the very few.

i love to travel and i'm grateful i have seen many beautiful places, have been able to work in another country, have found friends in faraway places. but it still makes me wonder, how easily we take these privileges for granted, even think we couldn't live without them.

i'm feeling for all those who are stuck somewhere without the means of getting home, for those who had been looking forward to seeing friends or setting off on a holiday, something they saved up for and planned around. for me, it has become a distinct possibility that i can't go to london next weekend - something i've been looking forward to so much.

but at the end of the day, i think this may be the chance to slow down the pace of our lives. to challenge the assumption that things have to be done on overly tight schedules, and with a frequency that maybe just isn't necessary.

i'm hoping for everybody stranded away from home - and worst, those who are stranded in transit on extra-territorial ground, in some random european airport - that eyjafjallajökull goes back to sleep soon. for the rest of us, i'm hoping we take the chance to stop and think. to enjoy being where we are rather than constantly wishing we were elsewhere.

p.s.: this morning, i time travelled back to last summer, when we played boules with some friends in the park. i'm looking forward to warmer days when we'll be playing again.


Marion said...

ah la pétanque ! (that's how we call boules here...)
I played in Berlin once, a good souvenir...
lovely sunday to you dear K !

nath said...

this is a very thoughtful post. whilst i do feel for people stranded many miles from home, i do strongly feel that we must stop relying so heavily on air travel and as you say, stop taking it for granted.

it has amazed me that no one (in the media) has mentioned the significant amount of C02 that must've been saved with planes being on the ground for four days (i know that volcanoes are a major source of C02 but that's nature isn't it?).

it's a shame if train prices are rocketing, i'd be happier to travel a whole lot more by train if it wasn't so expensive!

Cabrizette said...

Oh !! you are playing to "pétanque" ?!!! It's a national sport here, on the south of france !!!! Funny, isn't it ?!!

Mary said...

pétanque is so much fun. excellent shots :) roll on summer!!

it's a shame that the news concentrated a little less on the travel chaos & a little more on what's actually happening in Iceland!
footage of the volcano is awe inspiring!

Don said...

Sometimes it's better just to stay close to home and discover what's there. That could keep you busy for years, no matter where you are.

alexandria said...

I like the idea of slowing down and simply enjoying what is around you. You put such a positive spin on this situation...wonderful post.

Jocy said...

I too like the idea of slowing down, of letting our tight schedules dictate our lives. I realize this runs counter to my very American viewpoint. But I question a culture where I feel guilty taking 2 weeks vacation off a year.

Maria said...

I love these boule pictures! looks like a loveley day.

yes, the volcano has messed up the world a lot! and poor iceland:( hope it's over soon.

Cate said...

great boule pictures. never played, but everyone says how fun it is.

and, oh, i'm sending my love to everyone stranded there and everyone who's world must be upside down in iceland. wow. the earth is alive and mysterious.

lea said...

i enjoyed reading this post kristina. you are so right, it is almost scary how much we take traveling by air for granted, not to mention the circulation of goods by plane. this lava dust cloud really got me thinking.

sorry to hear you have to work so much - fingers crossed you can travel to london soon : )