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.