Can we find joy in going nowhere?

By Małgorzata Piechowicz-Pietruszka

In 2019 FlightRadar24, a popular online service for tracking flights announced a new annual world record of almost 69 million flights, an average of 188,901 flights per day, which was a 10% increase over 2018. Travel and Tourism industry contributed 8.9 trillion US dollars to the world’s GDP and accounted for 330 million jobs where one in four new jobs over the past five years was created by the sector.

Since March 2020, when WHO announced the COVID-19 outbreak as a pandemic, the demand for air travel plummeted by 95% compared to a year ago. 90% of all flights have been suspended worldwide.

 All these numbers clearly show how much we have learned to love travelling, to say the least. Either for pleasure, business or health purposes the modern travel industry has become a commodity we had never envisaged to have to surrender. Yet, we all have been forced to stay home.

Like millions of other people, I and my family had had beautiful plans for this holiday and like millions of other people, we had to give up all of them. I was suddenly confronted with the idea of spending summer in Oman with three children (including an infant) within the confines of our home. Obviously, it is a challenge of its own. Now add to that the fear of the new virus and the scorching weather. Those who know, know. Generally speaking we were all hugely disappointed and frustrated.

As it turns out staying in one place, even if it is your own house, might be an overwhelming experience. And believe me it was. At least until I remembered about a book I came across some time ago and in a desperate act of looking for help I decided to reach for it again. The Art of Stillness: Adventures of going Nowhere by Pico Iyer proved to be a challenging reading. Not because of its length, you can actually devour it in one sitting, but because of its hard to deny plain and simple ideas about the perpetuum mobile that we have made our lives to look and feel like. If you give yourself the time to not only read but also ponder on the wisdom contained in literally every sentence, you may discover that by going nowhere you are not losing anything but gaining the most precious thing: You. If you stand the challenge, I promise great rewards because as the author has gracefully put it: the greatest journeys are inner ones.

Oman Observer

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