After an epic start to the summer semester, I’m faced with the sad reality that in a few days I will board an oversized shiny metal lawn dart on my long journey back to Toronto. Fortunately, the summer is only truly just beginning.
It likely comes as no surprise to anyone that I’m a fan of travel. In fact, I try to work travel into my every day as often as I can. And I’m very lucky that my job is such that travel can be a regular and integral part of what I do as an academic. Travels required for conferences and invited talks, research trips, and visiting international universities provide me an opportunity to see the world. More than that, travel allows me to connect with different cultures and world views, to understand how most of the world lives, and to remind me that we all want pretty much the same things. It’s also a constant reminder that despite the horrific things we read in the papers, see on repeat during the evening news, or read online, people are basically good; there are always more helpers than those who would hurt others.
I’d like to believe that somehow these travel-based lessons make me a better, more well-rounded person and teacher. I know my experiences have opened my eyes to how lucky and privileged I am, and they’ve allowed me to see how resilient the human spirit is. More than this, I’ve seen first hand how the pursuit of material things almost never brings real happiness. To the contrary, I’ve been welcomed with some of the biggest smiles in areas of the world that we in the Western world would call slums to sit and dine with people who clearly have far less than I do, and yet they insist on sharing whatever they have.
As I mentioned, this year has been particularly travel-filled and I’m extremely grateful for each and every adventure I’ve had, and the lessons I’ve learned along the way.
After 16 flights1, having traveled more than the circumference of the earth2, and adding 2 new countries to my list of countries visited3, I will have been away from Guelph for 48 of the 170 days that will have come and gone in 20164,5. You might think that I’d be ready to hang up my backpack to take a break. But the reality is that there is so much more of the world that I want to see, so many more lessons out there for me to learn. While I’m very much looking forward to seeing my friends and family, and the wee fuzzball, I know that it won’t be long after my return that I’ll be dreaming of new places to visit.
Fortunately for me, the summer has only just begun and my adventures around the globe aren’t anywhere close to being finished.
1 Including the two flights (Barcelona to Dublin, Dublin to Toronto) that I require to get me home.
2 By the end of this current trip, I will have flown more than 40,900 kilometers. The circumference of the earth is approximately 40,075 kilometers.
3 I’m looking at you Scotland and Spain. And while technically I was in Dublin, Ireland, I only spent time at the airport during a very short set of layovers – so that doesn’t really count.
4 June 18 marks the 170th day of 2016, assuming my brain is still able to add properly.
5 This includes a research trip to Labrador (Rigolet and Happy Valley-Goose Bay), an exchange with Dalian Nationalities University in China, and my current adventure through Europe with several friends.