What defines a journey? How do you determine that it was good or bad, successful or unsuccessful, positive or negative, ordinary or extraordinary? Having just returned from my journey, I have realized that there are more components that define the character of a journey than one might initially suspect.
The actual travel from one space to another is one of the primary determinants as far as the value of the trip. Having difficult flights, connections, nearby travelers, weather, or airports can all have an influence on the quality of the experience. The COVID-19 pandemic has serious impacted everything about flying, from checking in to deplaning.
Start to finish, I completed five take-offs and landings, four airports. None of them were extraordinary in any way. The shops carried essentially the same junk; the only difference between one airport’s products and another’s was the local team or cause that it represented. When you are in Phoenix, you see the Suns and Cardinals. In Oakland, you (still) see Raiders and 49ers. But the food is essentially the same, the waiting areas are almost carbon copies, and it’s pointless to pay any particular attention to fellow travelers.
Car rentals don’t have the potential to have good or bad influence on the event. One rental car is essentially the same as any other. But reaching the car from the terminal can be more or less stressful, depending on the support personnel involved. In the first case, I was annoyed by a driver too unconcerned or apathetic to assist with my heavy suitcase. On the way home, the person in the same role was helpful, cheerful, and eager to assist in any way. My guess is that if he could have rolled or carried by bag into the terminal to help me, he would have done so.
Then there are the accommodations. A room is a room is a room, right? The fact that my plumbing didn’t work and I had to change rooms certainly didn’t add or detract from my trip. But the neighbors in the next room who left their television on all night and spoke only in loud voices did have an effect.
Somehow, all of this must remain incidental to the actual reason for my being where I was. With a close family member in irreversible decline, the balance of the trip automatically becomes irrelevant or trivial. My emotions about this are too powerful and compelling to articulate in this space. But I am amazed at how unimportant the airlines, the rental representative, and hotel neighbors suddenly become, especially when I reflect on the powerful, emotional time I spent with family.
The proverbial bottom line is that the logistics can’t and won’t have the power to have any significant influence whatsoever, due to the more outcomes derived from my trip. Even the two gentleman in the row behind me on the plane who have spoken only with mega volume in a foreign language haven’t the impact that I might have expected. Ultimately, why did we travel, whom did we see, how did we spend our time, and what noteworthy tasks did we accomplish take precedence and will continue to do so for the as long as we can predict the future. Shalom.