10 April 2016

Travel & Gratitude

The last train in Tokyo, December 2006.

A thousand years ago, Europeans didn't know the American continent existed. A few hundred years ago, it took years for a traveler to go across the world. By the end of the 19th century, traveling around the world in 80 days was a fiction-worthy exploit. And now? Now, we can travel through continents in less than 24 hours. Isn't that awesome? What if we could see the world with the marveled eyes of a child? Or a time traveler?

Today, people make faces and complain in airports. Too much queue. I have to go through customs, open my bags, find a way to put all the electronics and toiletries back in. Too much wait at the airport. Not enough room on the plane. But do we ever stop to realize we climb inside iron machines to travel across the world in mere hours?

When I first flew for work 5 years ago - a press tour in Dubai, no less - I wondered if I'd ever get used to it. The thrill of watching the plane take off from the windows, my ears buzzing, my heart leaping, the airport, cars and houses becoming smaller and smaller. Sitting 36.000 feet up in the air. Watching the clouds from above...

What would a time traveler from the middle ages think of this? (He'd probably try to burn me for sorcery for a thousand reasons, but still, traveling in the sky!)

Anyway, it's 2016, I've traveled dozens of times since my very first press tour, and never got tired of the miracle of flights. I'll confess, sometimes, I think about it when I'm in the lavatory. This little action I need to do every day, I'm doing it 36.000 feet in the sky! I'm watching a movie in the sky!

Sometimes it makes me sad, because being able to fly around the world is a privilege. Entire families die trying to come over to Europe from conflict zones. But it also makes me even more appreciative of all these little things we are lucky to have without ever thinking about it.

Instead of focusing on what to buy next, how about we feel grateful for the little miracles of our daily lives? (Did I mention that we have clean water available in our homes? Electricity? Internet? I could speak about the miracle of Internet for hours)

Anyway. I'm flying to Japan in a few hours for a two-week holidays. And I'm as excited as I was the first time I hopped on a plane. This is a little victory of life appreciation and gratitude.


  1. Yes, I agree! It's easy to forget how un-commonplace the things we enjoy in our daily life are. I love flying, I like airports, it's only too bad it's so harmful to the environment -_-
    Another thing that's near miraculous is the ease of instant communication, in seconds to the other side of the globe. I just recently read a book from late 80's about satellite communications. It described in tones of awe how with the help of information-transmitting satellites one can get up to five pages of text in a minute from one continent to another!! What a blessing for education! How convenient for NGOs! A wealth of information at our fingertips!

  2. Such a wise post - thank you for the important reminder of how very lucky we all are.

  3. It's so easy to take for granted the things we have, and so easy to forget how privileged we are...and even complain about it (airports being a great example of that!). Sometimes I get those "awe" moments, others I force myself to see them, because I think it helps me getting perspective on the state of my own life...gratefulness is usually where I end up too. This was a great reminder, thank you. On the other hand, this constant human dissatisfaction is a big part of the evolution process that leads to these amazing things becoming real, I guess...

  4. I'm catching up on the blogs I read, and I love this! It's very true. We take this for granted so often.

    I've seen the pictures from your trip on Instagram! It looks amazing!