This past week I traveled from the green, wet east coast of the United States to Phoenix Arizona for work. The event was pretty typical for work travel - I arrived early at the airport and browsed around half-heartedly in the shops. The flight was on time and completely and totally packed with every single seat occupied. Rush of people to board the plane, standing around in groups waiting, struggling with luggage and overhead bins, making sure to buy a bottle of water and a snack before boarding, and none of the excitement for travel that comes with a family trip or a vacation. Then the flight seemed to take forever. I had a chance to read a book (cover to cover), do some crochet work, and read a magazine.
When we finally landed it was like arriving on a different planet.
Oh yes, everyone talked the same language, I could read the signs, I knew where I was. But the landscape was dramatically different from where I started - and the sky was HUGE! The desert is an amazing place, and very different from my rainy humid east coast of the U.S. home. Hardly any trees, no grass. Lots of flowering bushes - truly gorgeous ones - but nothing like home. Alone in Phoenix I was completely out of my element, completely out of my comfort zone. I had a hard time driving the rental car because I couldn't stop myself from staring and gaping at the desert around me. It truly was an alien landscape for me. I thought about the moon, about Mars.
I found my way to the hotel and realized that even though it was mid-afternoon with a blazing sun, it was after dinner "back home." I went to bed at 7:00 PM. It felt like 11:00 PM.
Over the next few days I gained some degree of comfort with my surroundings - I easily found my way between the hotel and the office - but I was still stunned at the views and had to be careful driving. I drove through an Indian reservation. The mountains were a sharp relief against the big big sky, and the dust that blew up from the machines tending the fields swept across that sky in big dark waves. I had seen pictures of this phenomenon, but it was absolutely stunning to witness. Apparently there are still dust storms in the western United States, but I didn't know it.
The flowering cactus was breathtaking, as was the heat and the dryness of the air. The Valley of the Sun was true to its name, and the Indian colors were everywhere. I thought of the early explorers and settlers. I appreciated the hardiness of humanity, and our determination.
Then, this morning, I saw a jack rabbit. He raced across the road as I left the hotel (at 5:00 AM Phoenix time, felt like 8:00 AM), and again I slowed my car to take in this surprise. His ears were enormous compared to his body. I called my husband and left a message for him sharing this good omen for the day. I thought about felting a jack rabbit with their huge, heat dissipating ears. I thought about being home.
I made the flight fine and we flew, hours and hours and hours across this great big country. I read, I crocheted, I thought about what I had seen, and I thought about how far away I was from my loved ones. I also considered how amazingly close I am to many incredible people - family and friends alike - through the gift of technology. All across the country - and really, all over the world. Even in this great big country with all the many differences here, and all across the world with all the things that separate us, I am aware that we live on a very small connected planet. And I am lucky to be a part of those connections, blessed with the many different insights, talents, perspectives, and gifts of amazing people all across the globe.