We’re home now, and I’m living in that enviable purgatory of having a job offer, but not yet a job. It makes for aimless days. On one of those days, I was sifting through a drawer in my childhood home and found a ratty magazine clipping that, for nearly a decade, I carried around in my wallet. It’s from a 2005 commencement speech by James McBride. It reads:
If I were 21, I would walk the Earth. I would go barefoot longer; I’d learn how to throw a Frisbee, I’d go braless if I were a woman and I would wear no underwear if I were a man. I’d play cards and wear the same pair of jeans until they were so stiff they could get up and strut around the room by themselves… So don’t take the short road. Fool around. Have fun. You’re not going to get this time back. Don’t panic and go to graduate school and law school. This nation has enough frightened, dissatisfied yuppies living in gated communities, driving SUVs and wondering where their youth went.
Things were different in 2005. In 2021, one might consider McBride’s advice irresponsible, what with Covid, global warming and the glaring privilege of anyone with the time and the money to take a trip.
To travel today is to face headwinds of fear, confusion and guilt. And I think it’s a healthy tension to wrestle with. But what is the alternative? Stay in our bubbles and pet screens that feed us headlines that differ only slightly to the ones we clicked on yesterday?
There are economies that need tourism. There are carbon-offsets today. There is hope for tomorrow. But more than anything, I think the world needs more people who have seen the world. Who have popped their bubbles and met kind strangers that don’t look, live or think like them. People who’ve stretched their comfort zones and been the minority. These experiences make it so that, when we do come home, we do so with more empathy and perspective. With wider apertures.
I have walked the earth more times than necessary, and I’m a long way from 21. Sharing our trip with you through this Sunday newsletter has truly been a gift, but we’re home now. I can’t just keep sending you postcards from San Francisco. It’s time to settle down with Dana and become yuppies. We won’t wonder where our youth went.