Arrivals and departures: what does physical distance mean in the digital age?
Sometimes travel serves me a shit sandwich.
I go into a flurry of meeting friends, saying goodbye to place number one, London in this case- going to unique places like Samuel Johnson’s and John Keats’ house, ramping up my business and generally feeding off the electricity and smorgasbord of possibility in the big city. 100 mph. Then a manic phase of packing and tying up loose ends. On top of it all is saying thank you to everyone who hosted me, taught me and inspired me.
Then travel itself. The 9 hour flight from London Gatwick (not to mention the harrowing Uber taxi ride avoiding all the roads closed for a half marathon on a Sunday morning, eventually dropping me at Victoria Station). The Gatwick “express” which blessed us with only a few minutes of delays. Travel favours the prepared mind, or certainly a mind that is not caught up in needing to be on time, within budget or to even get there that day. The outcome-independent mind.
The flight itself was a beauty- I sat beside two English gentlemen who were visiting the west coast from Vancouver going south through Seattle and SF to LA for the first time. We talked a bit and then I tried not to continue laughing as their audible hilarity ensued between the two of them. I don’t think I could have maintained this uproarious state for 9 hours, but you never know.
The peak of excitement was the incredible bag relay that occurs whenever I go through Vancouver to Victoria- I swept through passport control but stopped dead at the baggage carousel. The next step of this amazing race would be to deposit this bag at the cockamamie Air Canada transfers area, located conveniently on the opposite side of the airport, across a long catwalk up on the fourth floor. But I was made to wait 45 minutes for this pleasure. But that too got done with a 10 minute cushion.
After a celebratory Starbucks visit, a 12 minute flight to Victoria and a lazy taxi ride in (Victoria’s airport connections are still a work in progress) I was again pumped. I went shopping, unpacked and made supper. 80 mph.
Then I went cross eyed reading – this is how I know it’s bedtime – and slept for 9 hours.
For the next week I was like an out of work actor- rising late, wondering where the next audition was coming from (“why is nobody calling to me?”), and generally tired and emotional, though jet lag sops up emotion like bread in gravy. 0 mph.
Where was everyone? And why did I feel abandoned when I, with my actions, had essentially abandoned everyone? Well not intentionally, but more on this in a moment.
Why is physical distance even a thing anymore?
I want to continue as I am, coaching awesome, inspiring, intelligent, quirky people from wherever in the world. And it’s all in my head that I might not be able to. And this clearly reads like “Proceed with caution” to everyone.
It’s not just a professional concern. I want to keep a relationship going with the friends that I’m lucky to have! They might have stories about why I come and go, why I didn’t say a ‘proper’ goodbye (whatever that looks like to them), how they can’t stand the absence or why perhaps it is a relief that I’m gone. Or how British Columbia is actually in another solar system, far, far from the UK and it’s nearly impossible to communicate with (maybe by asteroid).
To me this is just whatever story got created and built up, like a city on top of ruins. And because we see a big shiny city we think, yes, there it is, it’s real! What we ought to ask is “why did I concoct this?” What is this city doing for me? Is it keeping me feeling safe behind its walls? Is it keeping me from ever sticking my neck out, or in my case, keeping from ever committing to anything long term (hello!).
(I’m definitely going deep and exploring my commitment-phobic side. My coach is way too intuitive and patient to let me off that particular hook!)
Unfortunately, I also have a knack for meeting really cool people right before I go- so it becomes either a ramp up quickly or a put it on hold scenario.
But it doesn’t have to be this way.
I’m always here. I will see you again if that is what you want. And if it is, guess what, it’s probably what I want too. Humans have a surprising level of intuition in this area. Some of my closest friends are people I see far too little of but they burn intensely in my heart. That’s how I know that we remain friends.
So let’s just agree- I haven’t abandoned you. It’s that I am living from purpose which happens to include adventure. There’s a reason why we have 200-odd countries – so I can go explore them all!
Here’s the deal: I’m either -8 hours (PST) or 0 hours (GMT) or some other number but it’s just a number. It’s just plus or minus hours from your local time.
My calling is to support people from a location somewhere in this universe. My joy is to see the people I coach grow as individuals, assert themselves in the universe and become leaders. Yes I want to witness this.
I have homes all around the world.
I’m blogging from the Container cafe in Vancouver. Another home.
The next time you or a friend goes abroad for a month or three, I challenge you to treat this as a mere time difference. Keep in touch. Do the time zone math(s). Call. Write. Maybe send them a letter. If they are staying in a dozen airbnbs or flats across London, agree on a constant address – that’s my pro tip.