I’ve long been of the opinion that flying long distances is the pinnacle of excitement and restlessness. First, flying to a new destination is the anticipation of a place that you have never been wrapped in hours of wait. It is like licking a tootsie pop slowly moving toward the tootsie roll goodness in the center. Then, the strange passing of time. How meals come when they are not expected. Just as you drift off into sleep someone taps you on the shoulder and you are brought back to consciousness by someone’s imminent need to pee.
I’m learning to fly, but I ain’t got wings
Coming down is the hardest thing
Well the good ol’ days may not return
And the rocks might melt and the sea may burn
“Learning to Fly”
-Tom Petty, Tom Petty and The Heartbreakers
Even as I sit here in 17J, there is a map with a long trailing green line showing where we have been. The seemingly endless rotation of an up-to-date status flying across LCD screens conveniently placed throughout the cabin. Multiple pots begging to be watched, slowly moving toward a boil. Towards tea. Towards soup. Flying to Hong Kong. Were it not for the nearly imperceptible progress, I would think that this is my Groundhog Day. Were there a piano on the plane, now would be the time to search the passenger manifest for my piano teacher.
The time ticks down from the teens of hours and now to 6. It makes me consider, if not for a moment, how big the earth really is. Yet we still fidget and fight over it. I don’t know that I will ever understand that. There is this whole big earth spread out under our feet, and there is something within a few, if not all of us: a desire that seeks to carve out a portion of it for ourselves.
Where did this start? Has it always been? That is, in part where perspective begins. This great commonality of imminent domain. The spread of people everywhere. Their culture and how we relate and interact with one another. This trip is an experiment in that. Both at a micro level with our MBA teammates and my friends, but also at a macro level immersed in the culture itself.
For the next 25 days or so, I am somewhat of a nomad. Moving place to place and logging just a few of the things that I see. Maybe I will capture some of it on video. I nearly let the word ‘film’ slip in there. Capture it on film… sigh. When you travel long distances in a plane you do lose track of time. In this case, whole days are skipped and sometimes I will make the inevitable word snafu.
The easy part leading up to this adventure has been the planning. Booking travel today is simple compared to 20 years ago. Today, a hotel is a few keystrokes away. 20 years ago, it was a magazine, a guidebook, or an agent directing you to your destination. What i am not sure that I am prepared for is the sharing of the experience. Writing about a trip as it happens is laughable in a world where everything is shared in 10 second clips and short Facebook and Twitter posts. This part is somewhat of an experiment. It is taking what will inevitably be shared in short bursts and capturing the feeling behind it. Only a few will take this dive with me and drop out of the short status burst and fall into an explanation.
It is part of the problem today, I think. How do you accurately explain the depth of a feeling in a short Facebook post. It will inevitably be experienced with incomplete information. How do you capture an experience so that it is experienced in depth? More than SnapChat, or Facebook. Twitter. Can you capture it in such a way as another person can taste what you taste? Feel what you feel without simple connotation. Identify with what is being felt? Is it possible to be a full proxy for another person?
It is not possible. But a longer explanation is needed sometimes. Sometimes you need a tour guide instead of the audio tour with headphones. Let’s try that for a bit, shall we?