Tuesday, May 09, 2017

They stack 'em high at the Sacramento Airport, I'll give them that.

The trip to California was exactly the break in my routine that I needed.  Routines are often just another way of saying "stuck in a rut," and they're also a way of conserving energy.  If you have a routine, there's no need to waste any energy thinking about or deciding what to do next. You just get up at the usual hour, drive the usual route to work, do your job, take the usual route home, divert yourself with the usual diversions, and go to bed at the usual hour, and then do the whole thing over again the next day. What could be easier?

Energy is stored in patterns, but when those patterns are disrupted, great block-busting quantities of energy can be released, just like the energy that's released when the pattern of an atom or its nucleus is broken.  Travel disrupts the pattern of our routines, and compels us to talk to new and different people, sleep in different beds, drive new roads (new to us, at least), and eat different foods.  The release can be invigorating, and with just a little effort, we can bring that energy back into our daily lives when we return home again.  

But wait, there's more.  Travel can help us redefine who or what we are.  If I'm the person who lives in this house and drives this car and shops at this market and works in this office, then who is the person driving the rental car, staying in that hotel room, showing up at that job site? We see ourselves in a new context, and the contrast tells us more about who we are than the daily drudge of our routines ever will.

I'm back at work now and living close to the same routine I had before I left, but for at least the past day or so, the experience has basically felt the same, but also like I'm just a quarter-inch above the ground surface.  I'm certainly not soaring with the eagles, no one's accused me yet of that to be sure, but I'm not entirely leaden and grounded either.

My time out West was not all leisure and relaxation. Far from it - it was a work trip and not a pleasure trip and it was basically all grimy, sweaty work and long days on my feet.  I couldn't wait to get back to shower each day and I could barely find the strength to go out and eat at night.  But I've come back just slightly more energized than when I left, and feeling ever-so-slightly liberated.  Time will tell how long this afterglow will last.

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