Once again, I’ve let my life get way ahead of my blogging. Here’s why I’m beginning to make my peace with this pattern:
1. If I spent all my life blogging too faithfully, there would be nothing for me to blog about.
2. I haven’t lost track of what I’ve been up to, and now that I have the time to catch up, I can.
3. My new system – I write journal-style in one notebook, blog-style in another notebook, then upload – makes for better blog posts, even if it takes longer. Quality over quantity, people!
Thanks to this new system, I’m getting out of my ‘and-then-we-did-this-and-then-we-did-that’ style of writing, which has its place but is not what I’m aiming for. So whereas before, Episode Twenty Nine would have been called “No Way San José” (look for Episode Thirty with that title), documenting what happened upon my arrival, it focuses instead on my reflections on my decision to come here, my general outlook on life, and much more besides.
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There’s something about flying that gets me all pensive and philosophical. (And sweaty, but I think that’s unrelated). I think the birds’-eye perspective I get on the world from an aeroplane makes me think about all the things I don’t have room for in my life down there amongst it all. Example: how unlikely is it that here on earth developed the exact specific set of circumstances to facilitate these clouds, those life-forms, the expertise to build this aircraft? What are the chances, really, that there’s somewhere else out there where life can exist and grow? I look up at the pinpricks in the sky, visible from up here above the clouds, and think it’s almost certain that just one of them supports living organisms like us; I look down at all the things that we absolutely need for organisms to live here, like clouds and air and trees, and think it’s next to impossible.
Either way, though, what impact would it have on me or any other Earthling if there were other planets to explore, even if we could access them? There is so much right here to keep me busy discovering and marvelling for a whole lifetime and never tiring of it: who needs extra-terrestrial soils and aquamarine aliens when we have ticos and toucans and pura vida?
Every one of us creates our own perimeters. Some of us strive to find ways of reaching what we currently have no access to: these are the discoverers in NASA and Torchwood (:P), and we need them. Thanks to discoverers like these in the past – Christopher Columbus, for a prime example, – others like me can form our own perimeters, travelling to faraway corners of the earth to find something entirely different from our own experiences, yet still inherently human and identifiable. And we need these travellers, too.
Others still are quite content to know who and where we are, and know it well, before wandering further afield if and when the desire arises. I know people who question and even criticise this outlook, but the truth is (at least, my truth is), we need the locals no less than any other type of person. I lived in Scotland for 18 years and never even visited the isle of Skye, and the American exchange students I met in Edinburgh couldn’t believe this. And now, neither can I. Now that the travellers from America have shown me the beauty of my own country, I know I will go to Skye one day: and that’s why we need them. But I wish I’d always paid attention to my more immediate surroundings in this way: I wish I’d always been a little more ‘local’ and a little less ‘traveller’; because if you ask me (and I’m going to take your reading of my blog as a sign that you did), this is the most important lesson of all. How could I criticise someone for never leaving their home country when I haven’t even discovered all of mine?
Think about it this way. There are hundreds of thousands of charities in the world (trust me, I’m going somewhere with this), from local Save-Our-Village-Church funds to worldwide aid programs like UNESCO and the Red Cross. Who is undertaking the most global challenges? The latter, of course. But if nobody gave to the local youth programs or shopped at Shelter or even played the lottery, then our own communities would be collapsing around our ears. Who could afford to donate to Red Cross when their house had been broken into and their possessions snatched by a desperate homeless boy with no other way out? Who would have the time to write letters with Amnesty International when they had to paint over the graffiti on the church walls because the local youth had nothing better to do? In this way, every level of charity and support has its own role to play, and all are equally vital.
We all have our own part to play in a community, be it local or global. My flatmate ran a heroic campaign through her Etsy shop, giving 100% of her proceeds to the Japan Earthquake Appeal. I met a homeless man named Organic Jim and was moved to buy several thermal blankets for him to sleep under. The world couldn’t do without people like Jenny, and I’m going to go right ahead and say it couldn’t do without people like me, either.
It’s always amazed me that every single profession that we need has someone to do it, and that every attitude and outlook we need for a stable humanity is shared by enough people to maintain it. Maybe that’s one of the reasons why I sometimes believe it’s unthinkable that, anywhere else in this vast place, the fates have collided in such a way as to create a world like ours.
Just something to think about.