Wednesday, 23 September 2009

Flying shame

Shortly before we left, a good friend of mine kindly gifted me a book by a gentleman named Jiddu Krishnamurti. In a beautiful twist of irony, he has a huge following, in spite of – or perhaps because of? – his core proposition that people should follow no-one. The book is called Freedom from the Known. I've been thinking about it a lot the last two weeks.

One of the most confusing things for the Russians we've met is just why we've caught the train all the way from London and will be catching trains all the way to and back from South East Asia. They, perhaps along with you, don't really understand the desire to ground ourselves permanently.

My first flight was at nine weeks old and my parents brought me up to believe that the world out there was for exploring. Words cannot convey how I agonised over the decision to give up flying. At the time I believed it would be a huge sacrifice to make and my life would be a frequent, if not constant, struggle to resist the temptation of taking to the skies.

However, with climate change already killing 300,000 people a year and the potential for millions to die and by the end of the century, it had to be the right thing to do. By using more finite resources than our fair share, I believe we are no less eating our children than the wretched creatures in Cormac McCarthy's dark post-apolcalyptic novel, The Road.

In fact, the moment the decision had been made, the torment vanished and I was left feeling liberated and less burdened than before. The opportunities that tend to open up once you have made even one small change in your life, made themselves plain almost immediately in this instance.

Part of this is certainly the human need for novelty – our brains crumble without it. Making one restriction on your life can often free you from many others, unknown until the decision has been made. Although we didn't know it at the time, Climate Stories is undoubtedly just one result of our decision to free ourselves from the known.

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1 comment:

  1. When I saw the title of this post on my feed I thought you'd had to take a flight for a moment there....

    Trains reall are the best way to travel. I'm looking into the potential for a transatlantic freighter trip too at the moment.