Citizenship vs. Global Citizen.

UntitledMy personal thoughts on citizenship seems to be an outlier. The idea that a person can belong to one country by accident of where they were pushed or dragged out of a uterus seems strange. It seems peculiar.

It seems wrong. I was born in one city in one country. I left there when I was three and have been in motion ever since. People ask me where I’m from – well, I got out of the uterus there, but that says nothing about me other than where my mother happened to be.

We get tagged with the hard part of the change, the painful part – the part mothers never really let their children forget. We don’t count where someone was conceived – the hopefully fun part – where two people mixed their zygotes to form a human.

That pain just keeps giving. Not born somewhere you want to go? Get a passport from the nation you were dropped off in, get a visa, wait for the TSA to look all that over as well as a lovely scan of your body. Don’t leave those shoes on. Granted, travel wasn’t always that hard if you could avoid it, with the exception of people who had to make those journeys in chains.

All of this got dredged up because of a lot of heated conversations I’ve had in the past day since the passing of Sir VS Naipaul, a man who was born in a colony of the British Empire, that later became Trinidad and Tobago after – well, let’s face it – the UK got bored with their colonies. A few nations became nations after overthrowing a foreign power, Trinidad and Tobago is not one of them.

This is not to say that Trinidad and Tobago doesn’t have it’s charms – I am here, after all – but to claim Naipaul seems, ultimately, petty. If he were not as successful, no one would be claiming him.

And I think – after having traveled, lived in some different countries and traveled to many more… I think after you hit a certain point in traveling, nationality becomes a thing you are tasked with. When I think of people, I tend to think of them globally. I don’t drag up where they were born, where they lived for so many years – that may be a part of their identity, but it’s certainly not their entire identity and it’s sort of insulting to think otherwise. That’s sort of like being prejudiced, isn’t it?

Of course it’s being prejudiced. The Greeks called anyone not from Greece a barbarian.

We live in a world now that, even if we pick up all the trash in a small part of the world – let’s say, the Caribbean – it doesn’t matter that much, there’s not that much of an impact unless the rest of the world is doing it. Ocean currents, winds, etc – these things don’t care about which country you’re in. Economies, too, are breaking through in this.

We are global citizens, whether we are consumed with nationalist pride or patriotism – a thin line between the two –  or not. At least while we’re on this planet, anyway.

You Can Never Go Home

That Kind of Day.

In almost 45 years, my feet have touched ground in about 20 different countries.

My life has not been one tethered to a geographic space; every time I have tried something has pulled me or pushed me in a different direction. Every time I thought that maybe, just maybe, I would settle down, I end up having to move either for work or for some form of duty. Wherever I put my feet up becomes home for that moment in a long string of moments tied together by the concept we call time.

Sometimes we retrace our steps, but in crossing the stream, we never cross the same stream. Things change. People die, new people are born, people who had influence decline and new people rise to new influence. Previous friends can become mortal enemies, mortal enemies may become your best friends.

And you change. The world changes you. Some people sit in the same part of the world, living in their own little part of the global village, unable to truly understand the world around them as news of it is piped in from media outlets more interested in selling advertising than actually telling the truth about the world.

You wear out shoes and boots. Vehicles come and go, some becoming legend (as the one above was in my mind and the mind of some others), some become the bad jokes lived through. Time wipes things away, introduces new things, and does so without apology or excuse.

As a traveler, sometimes weary, mostly not, I know that there is no going home. It was once a lament, a pain when others spoke of their homes so warmly, but in the end I know, too, that they can never go home either. They may think so, clinging to a familiarity and comfort of what is there, but it is never the same home.

All that you can work toward, all that you can hope for, is really just a place to put your feet up and rest now and then. A place where you feel comfortable, if even for a moment, is home. And while home may remain mainly the same for some, in the end it is never exactly the same.

You can never go home. You can, however, make your home wherever you are, whenever you are.

Thinking Is The Best Way To Travel.

A StartTravel is always interesting because, even if you have been to the destination before, it’s new again. Time is that stream we dip our cups in; the contents of the stream change even though we still call it a stream.

I was on an airplane not too long ago – I got up at 2 a.m., drove for an hour, parked, took a bus into an airport and stood in a TSA line for 45 minutes – where I quipped that they better have found a terrorist during that time to a few of the 500 or so people herded together by people in uniform, constantly reminding us to be in single file lines and to have our documents out and ready for the inspection 45 minutes away. We didn’t know it was 45 minutes away. For all we knew, there were people waiting for us with baseball bats around the next corner. Fortunately, this was not true.

Still, myself and a few others found hope in the imagining of all of this being worth it, that some would-be terrorist would be in stocks when we got to the end and that there would be rotten fruit provided to throw at them.

This was not to be the case.

From there, our new found friends scattered to different gates where we sat, waiting to be pressed into long sardine cans with wings – with windows that might as well have been a Hollywood set. We got in the air, and at 7:30 a.m. were allegedly in the air. By 8:47 a.m., we were allegedly in another airport – 6 hours and 47 minutes spent traveling to a destination that was really only 2 hours away from where I started, had fear-driven bureaucracy not given credence to what we endured.

In a shift of luck I have not experience in all my travels – and that is a lot – the gate for my connecting flight was almost immediately next to that of my arriving flight. I had time to get into yet another line for a protein shake since, without appearing despondent, the woman informed me that there was no coffee available at this hour. I am not so certain I mirrored her expression.

The next flight included 2 gentlemen on either side of me – one of which found an empty seat elsewhere, the other who was bravely maneuvering a pinata through 6 connecting flights… successfully. There should be a ribbon for that. And as the flight progressed, I decided to forego the pleasure of watching the latest Star Wars for the 2nd time, instead planning to doze. Pinata-man’s post nasal drip had other plans for me; his constant hawking lacked enough rhythm or lack of it to sleep to; I took the trouble to find my headphones so that I could block him out.

I ended up watching the movie, and one of the light saber battles began – an epic battle, twisting and turning, slicing, parrying and thrusting – a show that might have amused Musashi. Right in front of the screen, a woman apparently was so excited that she had to go to the bathroom, causing a wave of heads across the screen during the battle. Inwardly, I groaned. The battle ended as she hurried by. I sighed. A gentleman who had been dozing with his window blind down suddenly felt the need to open it and fill out customs forms during a dark part of the movie, allowing the sun to blind one of my eyes as I watched at a despondently dark screen – as if it were depressed by his actions.

And lo! At the very ending, my favorite part when Luke says not a word but volumes with his face, Mr. Pinata PostNasalDrip had an emergency requirement for the toilet.

We landed, and 12 hours later I was at my destination – eeking my way through immigration somewhat familiar, somewhat different, where invariably because of my passport the immigration officer would predictably say that I could have gone through the other line and it would have been faster (regardless of which line I was in). I grabbed my 15 lbs of belongings at the baggage claim, made my way through customs with decades of experience and absolutely no wit– something they do not appreciate  – and made my way out into sunlight, into a familiar land that was not so familiar, to meet people who were familiar but different, to deal with issues that were familiar but different.

Thinking is a much better way to travel. More leg room.

Hat tip to the Moody Blues for the title.