Globalization and Travel

This post was originally much longer. I split it in two, on Erin’s suggestion, to make it more digestible. If you do or dont like this let me know, so I know if I should post the other, longer, half.  

The internet is on of the most amazing thing humans have created. It has ushered in the kind of globalization no one would have ever thought possible. My great grand parents on both sides of my family came over from Europe around the turn of the century, or earlier. Everything they heard about their destination was likely the result of pamphlets and word of mouth. They traveled thousands of miles over several months in hopes that they hadn’t been mislead or lied to. On my mothers side in particular I remember hearing the story of one of my distant relatives. He was my maternal grandmothers paternal grandfather (my mom’s mom’s dad’s dad). He came here before his wife and children to work and start building a farm. He threw himself out there on faith and hope, his only contact was via the postal service which was slow and unreliable during the home stead days. After two years of setting up a home he was ready for his wife and children to join him. Plans were made to meet at the train station. Unfortunately she missed the train and had no way of telling him she would be on the next one.

He wandered around the station probably in a daze of confusion and fear that I could never begin to comprehend. He saw a woman and children sleeping on a bench. He ran up to them and embraced the woman…who was not his wife. Talk about awkward. He and his wife eventually found each other in the station. My guess is there was something on the passenger list denoting not making it on and a protocol to catch the next one. I imagine it was the longest wait of his life, between the two trains. Upon being reunited, he learned that all three of his children had been taken by influenza. His wife didn’t have the heart to write him with the news. They would later have five more children. The strength and resilience of some people will never cease to amaze me.

I like to think about things like this to help put my life in perspective. How would I have operated in those times? I could go that far via airplane for the weekend if I wanted, and it would barely be a footnote in my life. Does that mean I’m lucky to have such and adventurous life? Or devoid of being able to have a true adventure?  Do I have the kind of strength to leave my family behind and maybe never see them again in hopes that I could build a better life so far away? Could I spend two years away from Erin with only a slow and unreliable postal system as our only means of communication? We almost had a disaster when our phones wouldn’t work while hiking in Jasper I can only imagine trying to orchestrate a round the world trip to meet me at a train station in a land where both of us barely speak the language. Don’t get me wrong, I love globalization I think its great that we can travel nearly anywhere in the world on a whim (yet almost none of us do). When I traveled around New Zealand and Fiji it seemed almost at all times I couldn’t help but think what my great grand parents would think of these places. In their day a trip that far was a once in a life time ordeal. It was long and dangerous. Live or die you likely weren’t coming back, and remember you didn’t have the internet to tell you what to expect when you got there. In a way I am jealous of the kind of adventure a person was able to have back then. Of course that’s kind of looking back through the lens of nostalgia. I’ll take modern medicine and soft toilet paper over dangerous treks through the jungle to find head hunting tribes. But it sure does sound like a hell of a good time, and I often catch myself day dreaming about it when I find myself trapped in a traffic jam on my way to work.

So whats the point of my story here? I guess I dont have one, I was just rambling out my thought process that was sparked by something that got me thinking about technology and globalization. Then I was thinking about a few family members not wanting me to go on a trip I’m planning. It got me thinking about what it must have been like for all those pioneers just before they left the home country for the last time. What would my parents say if I told them I wasn’t coming back? It also got me wondering if all of our globalization and technology has, in a way,  taken all mystery out of the world? There aren’t a lot of blank spaces on the map these days. I know its for the best, but deep down, for selfish reasons, it kinda bothers me that I know I could never have “Explorer” as a career title.


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