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Travel for business is about making money. It brings up visions of long days on the road, in the air, in stuffy conference rooms, sterile hotel rooms at night, swished away by drinks at a dark mahogany bar, or a lousy meal at yet another greasy diner. Travel for business is about putting yourself out there, learn from the customer base, putting your own needs aside to serve the greater good of your business. This kind of travel serves the economy. Does it serve the greater good of this planet? To save the planet from overheating, overusing, we need to think about living local, making a smaller footprint.
The big, wide open spaces I saw in Eastern Oregon several weeks ago, where the grazing room seems endless, where the nomad in me wakes up, is getting smaller and smaller. There were only five male sage grouse doing their mating dance at the crack of dawn, instead of the expected twenty. No females in sight. Endless sage covering the wide open spaces, interspersed by white alkali lakes, without water.
Where is the water?
The Everest glacier I walked on 44 years ago has shrunk by 13%
I read about the last unmapped space on this planet, the Tsangpo river canyon in the Himalayas. It was explored and mapped in 1998.
People have been everywhere, found what there is to find, exhausted resources thought endless, left their footprint in the most remote regions of this planet.
My Ladakhi friend Karma said, “why shouldn’t I want to leave here, adopt your Western ways? You come and spend a winter here, locked in a house without running water, eating barley and cabbage, experiencing frigid temperatures that can’t be kept outside of these walls because fire wood is so sparse, and then we will talk again. “
He is right. I have the means to live in a lush valley, with relatively mild winter temperatures. I turn on the heat to warm myself. I turn on the tap to water my garden, wash my face, boil my tea. For how much longer?
Travel has made me aware that the world is changing. Travel has changed me. To survive, I will turn off the tap, grow vegetables, ride my bike to the store.
I will write about transformation and travel in a smaller frame, the travel of daily living, of surviving in a world that is no longer endless, no longer endlessly abundant.