One can depart from a landmass with unique climates, customs, languages, flora, fauna and political systems -- and in less than 24 hours travel to another spot on the globe that seems like another planet. The speed of airplanes makes this cultural dislocation possible at an astonishing pace, including a topsy-turvy effect on the body clock.
Currently cruising at 30,000 feet above the Atlantic Ocean, a two-tiered humongous iron bird flies over an expanse of water that belongs to no one except the creatures of the deep. Within a time span stretching from breakfast to dinner, France is fast becoming a memory as California begins to morph into real time consciousness.
A corner of my mind eagerly awaits the sunshine that was smothered by the gray clouds of Paris. But better weather notwithstanding, home also means a pile of bills, disorganized pockets of house clutter and a return to the sedentary life style of car-driving Angelenos. The magnificence of Paris architecture, the divine twinkle of Christmas lights already gracing boulevards and shops, and the walking -- ah yes, an imperative factor during ten days of baguette binging -- all left behind as big bird hurtles through the atmosphere.
This aircraft technically flies over "international" territory, the geopolitical construct of a free zone supposedly dominated by no individual nation. But it doesn't reflect a more basic reality. The pollution of China, the United States, India, especially Fukushima (and more) makes its way via wind and water into so-called international waters and so-called international airspace. When it comes to ecology, the boundaries drawn by nations are inept and unable to contain the flow of natural forces.
Irresponsible management from a sovereign country can now affect the many. Mother Earth is one body, despite colors and textures more varied than a United Nations meeting in full session. What affects one part will inevitably impact another; within the awesome varieties of human design and geographical landscapes, multicolored threads tie us together in a grand tapestry.
While it appears that I have journeyed from one continent to another and back again, in reality there is only one human family living upon one small planet, breathing the same air and surrounded by the same ocean.