The first thing I need to do on this posting is to apologise to Jo Earl for giving her a new first name and mis-spelling her surname!! My humble apologies, Jo.
I’m still on US time at the moment, despite having arrived back in the UK on Saturday. My flight was delayed by 6 hours which could have been a real hassle, but I spent some of the time thinking (!!) and some of the time sharing a bottle of red wine with a fellow passenger, so it went fairly quickly.
What I was thinking about was support systems and infrastructure. In airports, you suddenly become aware of the huge infrastructure supporting this nest of ant planes, and the thousands of ant passengers. The individual becomes important, but also loses individuality. What I mean is that you can imagine that on this particular journey you suddenly realise that thousands of individuals are getting up early, out of their normal routine, and setting off on journeys. They all converge on hubs of activity (the airport), their luggage is sorted, the logistics worked out, they depart in a myriad of directions for destinations all over the world, and along the way, some of those individuals touch strangers’ lives briefly before moving from their new hubs into other destinations.
It’s awe-inspiring really – all the support staff there in place who actually depend on all these individual travellers – the baggage handlers, ticketing staff, shop attendants, cleaners, pilots and air crew, cabin staff, kitchen services, and all the other ancillary staff, air traffic controllers, transfer bus drivers, tanker drivers and loaders.
And each person that you see or pass, or talk with, has their own history – their story of life, culture, geography.
The more I think about this, the more I am in awe. The sheer logistics of moving disparate human beings around the world. The sheer amount of individual life experiences walking around. Wouldn’t it be amazing to glimpse each person’s experience? What an insight into all sides of life! To catch an understanding of another’s situation.
How best to put into words the sense of contradictions that travelling brings to my mind. The insignificance of each individual and yet the total importance to each of those individuals. Each separate strand seemingly random yet coming together, separating out into clumps that move for a while together, converge with more coming in from different directions, then separate out into other strands, some amalgamated, some individual, until finally each disperses. Yet this is happening day after day in countless cities in all countries in our world – a continuum, never ending, always changing; every day every place unique in its combinations yet seemingly the same.
I find this almost beyond words and yet I comprehend it perfectly, like so many things in our world and universe. So trivial and yet so much an integral part of how the world works. See it repeated in the beauty of an individual flower, and a field full of flowers; or an individual snowflake and a snow-covered tree or path; or an individual star in among the galaxies in our universe.