March 15, 2021.   What You Wish For.

From the department of “What Was I Thinking?” I found this in my notes. It’s from August, 2019. I will add no commentary because it speaks for itself. It was something I jotted down with the intent of using later in a posting. That later turns out to be now, albeit in a context I never, ever anticipated…

I’m tired, jaded, frustrated. And if this summer is any indication, I think maybe we’ve stretched this aviation thing as far as it can go. Have you been to an airport lately? The crowds are glacial, the noise levels are insane, the lines and delays are eternal. My flight the other day from Boston to New York — a 35-minute hop — was delayed for four hours because of “flow control” into JFK. And heaven forbid a thunderstorm or two roll in. Our airspace is so super-saturated that the slightest meteorological ripple throws the entire system into anarchy.

As I type this I’m sitting in a terminal at Amsterdam’s Schiphol airport. There are so many people here, surging through the concourses, that you can hardly see the floor — a great, languid river of miserable-looking, stressed-out humanity. Where is everybody going? And why?
“Final boarding for Kigali.” KLM has a nonstop — an Airbus A330 no less — to Kigali, Rwanda, among dozens of other far-flung places. I love traveling, and I wish that I was stepping onto that very flight, right now. Just the same, I have to ask: are there really that many people who need to travel from Europe to Rwanda? Is all of this moving around necessary? All of these people — the innumerable businesspeople; the throngs of college kids with their hoodies and backpacks; the families with infants and the half-dead folks in wheelchairs — constantly on the move, by the tens of millions each week, across entire oceans and continents. In the old days people migrated. Today they simply churn.

For me there’s a troubling paradox: The more I travel, the more I see a system at its breaking point, and the more I’m of the mind that people ought to be staying the hell home.

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