People and Places

By Jim Selman | Bio

I am coming to the conclusion that I am a travel-aholic.  Like most ‘isms’, travelaholism is the product of thinking we control something that we don’t control and, therefore, are controlled by it. One of the primary symptoms of an ‘ism’ is that we say we want to change something—usually our behavior—but continue in whatever pattern it is that we want to change. I protest that I am traveling too much, while at the same time filling in my calendar with airports and connections and hotels around the world. So far this year I have been to Buenos Aires, Geneva, Madrid, Sao Paulo, Paris, Amsterdam and am on my way to Tanzania before leaving for New Zealand, the Ukraine and New York City. While this may sound exotic, I rarely have time to fully appreciate the uniqueness of these far-flung locations.

It is also true that I love my work and am very happy and engaged when I am speaking with people in different cultures. The more I travel to different parts of the world, the more I appreciate that the ‘human family’ are pretty much all in the same conversations and have the same concerns. While the languages and the scenery may vary, we are more alike than we are different.

I am also always a little amazed by how informed and current people are about events and politics in the USA. It is a shame that so many of us don’t speak more languages and learn more about other cultures and people—it would go a long way toward bringing the world together on some other basis than trade.

I don’t think there is a 12-Step Program for travel-aholics, so I guess I will have to either stop buying airplane tickets or stop complaining. It is true that traveling used to be a lot more fun before 9-11 and the subsequent tension that one can feel in most airports. But airports are still interesting places for people-watching if you can get past the endless “duty-free” designer stores. I have been observing recently that people are beginning to look at each other again, rather than merely pushing to get past each other. We also seem to be more relaxed in lines—whether this is resignation or reflection I don’t know, but it feels like a maturing acceptance.

I also am noticing that the airline employees and services people seem to be nicer and more interested in connecting and being of some service. Whether this is due to the collapsing financial system or some other factor I don’t know, but in general, people seem to be listening more and resisting each other less. In the final analysis, I don’t know if ‘they’ are changing or ‘I’ am changing. Whichever way it to is, the result is the same.  Traveling is getting better, and while I wouldn’t call it ‘fun’ like it used to be in my youth, it is certainly a pleasant way to pass some hours while visiting people of all ages around the world.

© 2009 Jim Selman. All rights reserved.