>No, I don’t mean travelling as in ‘I’m going travelling in my gap year’, which is so abhorrent a conceit as to make my bile rise into my nasal cavity. I simply mean travelling in its literal sense of moving from one place to another.
It’s one of the ironies of successful modern living that, bereft of the need to strive to survive, we obsess with the superficial and mundane. Hairstyles, shoes, food, wallpaper, children, blogs etc are all so utterly inconsequential as to be microdots in the footnotes of human history and yet, for many, they are all-encompassing.
Travel is one of these things that people obsess about, in an angry and troublesome way, and I suggest that this is because of the over abundance of reliance on time. Time as a concept yes, but more so that it itself acts as a panic inducer.
Going to work is the thing that most people travel for. And going home, obviously. It’s amazing how these two journeys, the same journeys in many ways, can be so different. Depending on which way you’re going, and how, they are so strangely opposed.
To Work – It’s a tiring and noisy place. Full of noisy children, youths with horrid attitudes and repugnant manners, large women reading TV magazines and eating crisps at 7.30am, windows dripping with condensation and traffic everywhere, beeping, crawling, stopping you. Making you late, making you a worse person by the second.
Home – It’s much of the above, but it’s also serene in places. You start in a packed bus and everyone steadily leaves, you gain more space and are able to increasingly relax. You can read your book, it doesn’t matter if you get stuck for a couple of minutes, because you’re going home and everything will be ok.
A sidenote to say that, notwithstanding the second aspect of the above, bus journeys are actually awful. They are truly dreadful and many is the time I have physically thumped my head on the plexiglass, or swore at yet another thunderous bang which some buses just seem to do at random moments. Like a nailbomb has just been driven over. They are dirty, broken and really bloody expensive. I’ve been on buses in Greece and Africa which are comparable to FirstBus, and that is a damning indictment of this shoddy and pathetic excuse for a company. I bet they’re rolling in it.
To Work – Speeding and dangerous, sticky-eyed, angry and in no way truly in control of your faculties. Panicking that you won’t get your favourite parking space, furious when you don’t and beyond consolation when you have to park in the NCP because you left 10mins later than you usually do. The radio is both essential and wrenchingly annoying, you can’t bear it, but can’t bear the silence. In the winter, driving to work is like trying to reach the North Pole. It’s so barren, cold and lonely in your crappy car, and you know that you could die at any minute.
Home – Again, quite relaxing and pleasant. You get stuck in the rush home of course, but you can trundle a bit and not worry. You can sit back in your seat, rest your arm on the window ledge and watch the world go by. Listen to a bit of Radio4, maybe even Radio1 if you want to feel a bit better about yourself.
The finest bit is pulling up when you arrive though, because no-one is in your place and you can really feel like it’s job done and you’re home from work. Like a man.
I used to walk to work and it was shit.
Empowering and very good for you, there and back. But you regret it coming home sometimes and miss the pleasure of just sitting down to get there. Also, the need to carry everything on your back, even a change of clothes, is sometimes wearing. Punctures are just a nightmare too, especially on a long stretch, so it’s not really advisable.
I bet some people do this.
My point anyway is this. Travel is a necessary objective and one that is merely the process by which we start towards the things we need to do: work, food, war etc. Where it riles us is in the time it takes away from us and in the massive inefficiences in process that it requires.
Compare almost any of the above to the equivalent of visiting somebody you love, or going to a show, or to anything else you’re looking forward to. It’s not the travelling usually, it’s the state of mind you’re in because of what you’re going to find at the other end.
Now, imagine that you’re leaving that person, the journey is even better.