It’s four.15 within the morning and my alarm clock has simply stolen away a lovely dream. My eyes are open but my pupils are still closed, so all I see is gauzy darkness. For a quick moment, I manage to convince myself that my wakefulness is a mistake, and that I can correctly pass returned to sleep. But then I roll over and spot my zippered suitcase. I let out a sleepy groan: I’m going to the airport.
The taxi is past due. There ought to be an adjective (a synonym of sober, only worse) to describe the state of thoughts that comes from waiting in the orange glare of a streetlight before ingesting a cup of espresso. And then the taxi receives lost. And then I get worried, because my flight leaves in an hour. And then we are here, and I’m hurtled into the harsh incandescence of Terminal B, walking with a suitcase so I can wait in an extended protection line. My belt buckle sets off the metallic detector, my 120ml stick of deodorant is confiscated, and my left sock has a gaping hole.
And then I get to the gate. By now you can in all likelihood bet the punchline of this very banal tale: my flight has been cancelled. I could be caught on this terminal for the next 218 mins, my only comfort a cup of caffeine and a McGriddle sandwich. And then I will leave out my connecting flight and wait, in a exceptional metropolis, with the same menu, for every other aircraft. And then, 14 hours later, I’ll be there.
Why will we journey? It’s not the flying I thoughts – I will constantly be awed with the aid of the physics that gets a fats steel chicken into the top troposphere. The rest of the adventure, however, can experience like a tedious lesson inside the ills of modernity, from the pre-sunrise X-ray screening to the unhappy airport department shops peddling crappy souvenirs. It’s globalisation in a nutshell, and it sucks.
And yet right here we’re, herded in ever greater numbers on to planes that stay the equal length. Sometimes we travel because we should. Because in this digital age there’s nonetheless some thing critical about the analogue handshake. Or eating Mum’s turkey at Christmas.
But maximum journey is not non-negotiable. (In 2008 only 30% of journeys over 50 miles were made for business.) Instead we journey because we want to, due to the fact the annoyances of the airport are outweighed by means of the visceral thrill of being somewhere new. Because work is annoying and our blood pressure is too high and we need a vacation. Because home is uninteresting. Because the flights have been on sale. Because New York is New York.
Travel, in different words, is a simple human choice. We’re a migratory species, despite the fact that our migrations are powered through jet gasoline and Chicken McNuggets. But here’s my query: is that this collective urge to travel – to position some distance between ourselves and the entirety we recognise – nonetheless a profitable compulsion? Or is it like the flavor for saturated fat: one of these instincts we must have left in the back of within the Pleistocene epoch? Because if tour is just about fun, then I suppose the new security measures at airports have killed it.
THE GOOD NEWS, at least for those of you studying this while caught on a tarmac, is that satisfaction is not the most effective comfort of travel. In truth, several new technological know-how papers advocate that getting away – and it doesn’t even count number where you are going – is an critical addiction of effective questioning. It’s no longer approximately a holiday, or relaxation, or sipping daiquiris on an unspoilt tropical beach: it’s approximately the tedious act itself, setting some miles between domestic and wherever you show up to spend the night.