Lessons from Dallas...

lessons for clara

Dear Clara,

It’s funny how some trips can come and go in the blink of an eye.  Modern air transport can take us somewhere new and back in the space of less than 24 hours, which is was my experience on last week’s trip to Dallas, Texas.  These trips can make you feel as though you really haven’t been anywhere: airports start looking the same, hotels start feeling the same, the interminable taxi rides start being the same . . . But you have to fight the temptation of thinking everything is the same. It’s not.  And even on these quick trips, that are more for work than for fun, it’s possible---with some effort---to start to notice differences.  Make a mental note of them before you forget; seeing differences is, after all, a big reason for why we travel.

Here is what I caught on my most recent trip to Dallas:

  • Look out for your eyes: I couldn’t get over how bright the Texas sun was, even in a December afternoon sky.  Even in a car, there’s nearly nowhere to hide from the brightness and reflections.  It was a good reminder to have quality sunglasses that protect your eyes, and the skin around them too---it’s your responsibility to take care of them for the long-run.
  • Sometimes more is more: Everything seemed somehow bigger in Texas . . . the car . . . the drink I ordered . . . the Christmas tree in the mall.  I wasn’t always used to it but sometimes it’s nice to have more of something.  I was particularly taken by the holiday decorations that were already plentiful,  and it seemed like a nice feeling to have such an outward expression of bows and glitter and lights.  It can be nice to immerse yourself in something more than we would normally allow ourselves.
  • But be mindful of space: Just because we can make something bigger doesn’t mean that we should.  Along with more and bigger, I couldn’t help but notice that everything also took up more space.  I was floored when looking out the window on take-off to see just how huge of an area the city covers.  And driving around, I noticed many buildings were just one story, many surrounded by huge parking lots, with lots of space in between.  Space certainly doesn’t seem lacking, so there is something to be said for using what you have.  But sometimes while more space can seem nice, it also means that you need more stuff to fill it, different ways to get around it, and sometimes it makes you feel far away from others.   Think about how much space you need, versus how much space you merely want.
  • Take stock of little differences: Sometimes a drive to the airport is just a drive to the airport, but if you’re in a cab, take the opportunity to look out the window and see what there is.  The landscape, the traffic pattern, who’s sitting in other cars . . . . I was surprised to see that there was a $4.00 toll just to come on to airport grounds, the first time I’ve ever seen such a thing, which got me thinking about how public/private infrastructure might work in Dallas, and  it’s not something I would have ever noticed before, but something I’ll ask about when I come back.
  • Enjoy the moon just as much as you would the sun: I didn’t get much daylight in Dallas, and what I did was mostly spent in a conference room.  But with such a wide open sky and not much light to distract it, I had a full view of the full bright moon from my hotel room, which I don’t get to enjoy as much in Washington.  Look for little moments that you don’t often get to see.

All my love,