On Time and Traveling

October 31 2013

I received the notification that I'd won the Listserve lottery less than half a day into my weeklong Maui vacation. Since I don't bring my laptop on vacations if I can help it, I'm writing this to you from my iPhone. I'll proof as well as I can, but please forgive any typos.

Apparently, a 3 hour time difference is harder to overcome than I thought. My boyfriend and I went to bed at 7:30 last night because we're wusses and caved to the fact that we'd been up more than 18 hours. And now I'm awake at 5 am.

Time differences are one of those things that freaks me out a little bit. It boggles the mind to understand that time is relative and has very little meaning outside of that which we assign to it. But our whole society is based on this arbitrary concept, and we constantly feel the pressure of it.

I'm the sort of person who hates being late to things. In fact, I arrive stupidly early to most events (I often find myself walking around the block a few times so I'm not half an hour early for a doctor's appointment), and it takes a bit of mental effort to be "fashionably late" to parties. I wonder why humanity first felt the need to divide and label time in such a structured manner, and if our collective inability to imagine time as anything but a straight line with little tick marks every month, year, century, millennia, would prevent us from ever being able to time travel.

Anyway, I think that travel is one of the few pursuits that really highlight the absurdity of time. I think it's a tragedy when people structure vacations as just another to-do list: we have to hit this and this today and these other 5 things in this order at these times before we leave or this trip is a failure! Maybe that's a peculiarly American approach to seeing new places (since we always seem to go about things backwards), but as an American myself and a fairly uptight and rule-abiding citizen in my day-to-day, I approach traveling as a chance to, cliche though it may be, live in the moment and take what comes my way. I don't always succeed, but I think it's the effort that counts.

Time, our schedules, our plans... They're all arbitrary anyway. And that's a good thing.

Laura Beggs
[email protected]
San Francisco, CA

P.S. I like mailing people things. Send me an address and I'll send a postcard in return.

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