Travel is a form of education. You won’t get college credit for it (unless some administrative footwork is involved), but it is a means of learning. One of the things you pick up flying coast-to-coast is how exhausting a day on a jet can be. Quite apart from jet lag itself, the weariness of occupying your minuscule allotted space in a pressurized cabin can be intense. And like ocean travel by ship, you have to dock at a distance to use smaller and smaller forms of transportation to reach your destination until at last you walk inside. This was the first year that such a trip ended by returning to a house rather than somebody else’s rental unit. It’s an odd feeling.
Work starts again tomorrow, and since I’ve been pretty much unplugged for an entire week, I know chaos awaits. I also have the task of learning what has happened in this off-kilter world for the last week. And then I have to make an inventory of the books that were ruined in our own personal Noah event just days before our flight. The changing of scenes feels rather like a jump-cut in a movie. Suddenly you find yourself somewhere different, with circumstances that have their own set of parameters. Vacation time, in a sense, is like a dream sequence. None of the episodes from back home can reach your sleep-addled mind. And then you wake up. Bills are due. The lawn wants cutting. The unpacking must continue.
For all that, it feels as if something transcendent happened. Like Elijah being whisked away in his own personal whirlwind, I was on a plane that took me to a different plane of existence. A place where no matter what decisions were made the outcome would be pleasant. Coming home involves what theologians like to call “metanoia,” a sense of transformation—memories that give you strength to carry on the quotidian tasks that make up the vast bulk of our lives. Lakes in the mountains are all fine and good, but society demands its pound of flesh, and the way they get it is through productive employment. Tomorrow it’s back to work, a chance to test just how successful the metanoia might’ve been. This is the reason we traveled on a Saturday, for the sabbath should be a day of rest. No one knows where that whirlwind set Elijah down, but it’s virtually certain that he had plenty to do once he got there.