17 October 2017
We are lining up in a queue of aircraft to take off at New York’s JFK. The dulcet tones Alex Cruz’s latest track play through my headphones whilst I can hear the, all too familiar, mumbling of a safety briefing in the background. The sudden vibrations and resulting G-force as we hurtle down the runway, signal take-off is in progress. I lie back and close my eyes.
This is the part of flying I love most. It’s not so much the physical sensations or excitement. It’s much more abstract and, dare I say it, spiritual. The process of leaving somewhere, particularly in a way where the town, village or, in this case, major metropolis, recedes into a dot behind you, for me, creates a particular sense of perspective. All the pressing issues and meetings that an hour ago seemed massively important and urgent suddenly get contextualized, and some perspective returns.
In this moment, our world adventure, known in our home as BWT2018, comes sharply back into focus. For the last few months, it’s been buried under the very focused international sales efforts of my day to day job, the stresses of managing and closing another business and the fiction that is corporate annual budget season. I realise quickly that my very linear business building brain has excluded any bandwidth for the trip planning. Nevertheless, it has all continued happening in a quiet orderly fashion, courtesy of Michelle, as one would expect.
I could just conclude that I married the right lady and that would be a safe moment to put a full stop to this post. I could also attempt to hide behind my commitments to work, noble intentions to give 150% effort to my employer, until we go. However, whilst these all have elements of truth, the reality is that the inactivity is also driven, in part, by a creeping fear. As I turn and head home from trip 9 or 10 of this year, its strikes me simply, that I am traveling a lot. I am tired, travel-weary. It scares me and threatens my view of next year and of what the trip and what it holds for us.
Immediately, the behavioral bias (As discussed so well in Michael Lewis’ latest book, the Undoing Project, find it on Amazon, follow this link) kick in and I try and justify an alternative reality. It’s going to be different. I won’t be in sales mode, pressed for time and under pressure. The shadow of targets and
budgets, however fictional, won’t lurk in my mind. There will be time to be present and enjoy and absorb what’s around me. Yes, answers an equally logical part of my brain, as I recline my business class seat and sip on some rather nice Bollinger, just remember you won’t be flying in the front of the plane and staying in nice conveniently located hotels.....
Like most things in life, the answer is not simple. This past years’ travel throws up a small window into what next year holds. Some good, some bad, some ugly. Are there elements of BWT2018 that I know will be less stressful than peddling my employer’s wares across the globe? Sure. Equally, are there elements of traveling together as a family, on a tight budget, that will be stressful and create conflict. Sure. Are there elements that remain unknown? Yes, most of them.
What I do know, or at least think I can take away from this year’s travel, is that as a family we need to get comfortable with being uncomfortable and uncertain. Most issues can be resolved with access to reasonable resources, some time and patience and blood sugar that’s not too low. And like the sunscreen, remember the blood sugar levels.