Depth

What Gets You On A Plane?

What event or opportunity is meaningful enough to get you on a plane (or another form of transit)? With ubiquitous virtual conferencing platforms, why do we ever need to travel again? Why can in-person connections not generate the same intensity as those created on a screen? Why do groups that exist in a virtual platform hold in-person gatherings (online gaming competitors, Youtubers, etc.)? In my experience, there are planned connections that we can schedule when we gather in person. A friend or colleague we look forward to seeing. Then there is serendipity. The individual we sit next to at a meal or during a presentation. The one we discover a point of confluence with adds depth and dimension to our journey (and work). I have several in-person connections from attending the same conference for over ten years; our online chats archived on the conference app. I have few virtual friends that I connected with on-screen and shared contact information. Creating the necessary depth and dimension from a virtual connection is much more challenging.

I am attending the final World Domination Summit (an unconventional weekend for unconventional thinkers) in Portland, OR. After the pandemic caused a two-year delay, the summit re-launches to celebrate its final iteration. It would be convenient not to attend; a multi-year delay disrupted the cadence of the event and disjointed some of the networks of participants. But the group is remarkable, and the connections resonate. The event does not define me, but it expands my mindset. It adds crucial details to the unmapped portions of my journey. The flight there represents the front door of the odyssey.

Sometimes

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Sometimes the journey is difficult and we seek safety and certainty about the outcome of the adventure.  Sometimes the conditions turn, our assumptions prove wrong, and the final result tips towards failure.  When these moments finally pass, we are able to reflect back with sharper details and sensations than most moments.  I recall how cold my hands felt at the end of a winter training session when I under dressed and the headwind generated polar windchill factors.  I hunker down when I feel intense heat, memories of crawling into structure fires as a volunteer firefighter.   I skip a breathe thinking of my front road bike tire unable to maintain traction as I slid across the pavement, five hours into a twelve hour cycling competition.  I see traces of the cycling wound, my fingers are haunted by a phantom numbness, and the heat from a bonfire sets off a reflex to go low.

These memories from our wildest adventures add depth to our being.  They do not define us because we will find new journeys with equally perilous outcomes.  To believe we are defined is to suggest that we have finished exploring.  Seek out the difficult and challenging.  The reason we continue to plan and set goals is due to the human element and that is what adds depth to the journey.