All day I have hearing about how one year ago we heard the news of Lehman Brothers collapsing, and sending the world economic market into turmoil. What is strange about that was last year when this news broke, I awoke in Lisbon, Portugal, several hours before the American public heard it, and had a brief moment of extreme panic. For a split second I imagined Tom Hanks in “The Terminal,” as he watched his country collapse into anarchy, and he could do nothing about it. I thought I might be stuck in Europe, kind of like people who were stuck all over the US and abroad right after 9/11. The moment wore off quickly, but I was keenly aware that the America I returned to was not going to be the same as the one I left.
The interesting thing about that situation is also how interconnected I saw the world economy. Immediately after the announcement of the Lehman Brothers collapse, several banks in Europe began to teeter and fall. I watched this happen via Euronews, and I knew I wouldn’t get this much info by being in the states. It was a bit shocking, and very eye opening.
I also can’t help but think of other events that have occurred while I was away from home. In 2005, after spending a week in Alaska, and falling in love with nature as though for the first time, I was in the airport waiting for my flight. It was midnight, but still light outside, and the televisions were broadcasting the bombings which had occurred in London. What was odd to me then was how far removed I felt from that. It should have brought to mind my memories of 9/11, but instead it felt so distant, because I was still dealing with the enormity of Alaska, and my new, renewed struggles with environmentalism.
This last summer, the day after we returned from Petra, which is a life changing experience, we were all sitting in my friend’s apartment in Amman, Jordan. It was then we heard the news of Michael Jackson passing away. That was quite a blow. I can’t say I was a fan of his in the last 15 years of his life, but Thriller was the first record album I ever bought, and I have a hard time imagining my childhood without his music somewhere in the background. It was interesting, and a little strange that we kept passing the billboards posted around Amman announcing his comeback tour. I wanted to get a photo, but the crazy traffic of Amman wouldn’t allow it. Still, this also gave me the perspective of how the world saw the “King of Pop.” The remainder of the world focused almost entirely on his music, dance, and videos, and really didn’t care about his personal life. In addition, his influence in other parts of the world is still just as large as back in the 1980’s in the US.
I keep wondering if I should quit traveling in order to prevent these crazy world events from occurring, as if my being abroad has somehow caused the stars to align in such a fashion to actually cause these events. I know that is preposterous, but we manage to make our brains think that somehow we could cause events like this, or that maybe if we wear a certain jersey and keep our rituals, our favorite team will beat their rival. I know these events are independent of my travels, but I can’t help but wonder what will happen next when I do travel. Still, while I am abroad, I get to find new perspectives, and hopefully a renewed appreciation for the events themselves, along with how varying people see the events. Perspective is everything.