Leaving a place I love prompts me to suddenly stop taking the world for granted.
When I’m in the flow of daily life I tend to forget that everything will return to dust, probably much sooner than I want it to. I’m too busy doing, to be. Then, I find myself departing on an intercontinental flight for months away – and suddenly I am hyper aware of how fleeting life is. I’m all kinds of emotional.
Goodbyes are an intrinsic part of 2018 existence. Extensive travel, stints in another country and permanent relocation are the norm. We are used to the ritual of parting, which is healthy. If we treated every single farewell as possibly the last time we will see each other, it would get pretty time consuming, not to mention draining.
Still, despite all this transit, I am still affected each time I leave and arrive. I am stirred by the excitement and romance of travel. Not so much by the airport queues or shitty food or jetlag, though these probably contribute in some weird way.
It’s a deeper realization that takes place each time I travel. Transience. My tinyness vs the universe’s enormity. The speed with which life passes. The search for meaning in it all.
It’s some kind of short-lived, existential awakening which usually starts a day before departure: “My last run here, my last coffee there, when will I return and who will I be?” It continues in flight, where the combination of elevation above the planet and offlineness compounds these questions, making them bigger and wilder.
This quizzical cloud evaporates by the time I’m 10 minutes into the immigration queue. But I love where it takes me, every time.