Monday, June 17, 2013

Shrinking planet


It takes about an hour, depending on traffic, to get to Boston's Logan Airport from our house in the suburbs. For an international flight, we try to get there a couple of hours early. In Ireland, our home in Ventry is a two-and-a-half-hour taxi ride from Shannon airport. Which means we spend less time in the air crossing the ocean than we do on the ground.

Small world.

The first time I traveled to Europe, in 1968, we went by sea, aboard the U. S. S. United States, which was one of the fastest ocean liners of its time. It took five days. Five sea-sick days in rough seas. As far as I was concerned, it might have been a famine ship. Now, I get on a plane, have a few drinks, a semi-nice meal, a nap, and I'm there. The flight is so short I can almost overlook the fact that we are packed in like African blacks on an 18th-century slaver. The only time I've ever had aspirations to wealth is when I pass those first-class folks sprawled in their spacious recliners.

Small world.

From my window here in Kerry I look out across Dingle Bay to Valentia Island, where the first Atlantic cable came ashore. There is a nice little museum at the old cable station celebrating the event. I think of those dots and dashes zipping back and forth under the sea, connecting Europe and American in a matter of minutes with news of wars and alarms. Dots and dashes. Now I tap "Post" and Mark in Fiji might as well be sitting here in a chair next to me in Ireland.

Small world.

When asked how he stayed married for so long, my father would answer, "Propinquity." We are all "propinked" today, but there is no sign yet that we are destined to live in harmony, or even in mutual tolerance. Still, our little global community here on the porch has been remarkably free of strife, which may offer a slender hope for a peaceable future.

Small world.