Years ago—it must be close to 25 years, maybe more—I had the great good fortune of making a trip to Australia and New Zealand. The whirlwind experience took my late wife and me on very short visits—between one and three days each—to Auckland, Christchurch, Wellington, Sydney, Melbourne, and Brisbane. Though it was a business trip, it felt like a dream vacation, though its compact and hurried schedule reminded me that I was not in control of the experience. That trip has come to mind of late as I read the occasional Facebook posts of a friend who has been on a very long cruise destined for Australia; she could easily have convinced me to be her porter. As I think of that trip and others I have made over the years, it occurs to me that the appearance of many of the places I have been must be radically different from the time I visited. Watching television series filmed in London, for example, has shown me a city that looks remarkably different than the last time I was there. A large number of tall modern buildings has altered the cityscape to the point that it seems like a completely different place than the one I enjoyed. The same must be true of the quaint villages I fell in love with on my many visits to England. And, I suppose, Australia and New Zealand are not the same places I remember. That is true in the U.S., too. The Chicago I lived in years ago was a different city than the one I see in videos today. Even Austin, where I spent 3+ years in college, is no longer the somewhat sleepy college town I enjoyed; it is a traffic-ridden high-tech monster. And Dallas, the city I left nine years ago, seems to have erupted into the kind of place I want to avoid. Is that true of Sydney and Christchurch, I wonder? How different will the towns and cities young people visit today be in 25 years? Will those people wistfully remember experiences they enjoyed in places that no longer exist?
Though I have never been to the Hebrides, I think I would find experiencing a secluded life there quite rewarding. That idea, though, will remain a fantasy. One of many I keep stored in my head. One of only a select few I share publicly. I find it difficult to explain the appeal of isolation, seclusion…distance from aspects of the world I find troubling. That notwithstanding, I’ll have another espresso and continue to mull it over.