On our journey through our lives we often spend long, long periods travelling through terrain we could navigate with our eyes closed. Everything is the same as it ever was – for good or ill – and that train we are all travelling on is moving so slowly that the movement is actually imperceptible.
Then one day you might wake up and discover a lump in your breast or begin a suspicious cough or your marriage breaks up or you lose your job or one of the many, many tragedies that fill the world may strike you – and suddenly you are a complete tourist.
Or maybe you don’t arrive at your new destination like that. Maybe you arrive there on the imperceptible train of life. Maybe one day you open your eyes and look around and your body is unrecognisable. Old and tired. Your kids have grey hair, you are looking death in the eye and the girl in the shop thinks you’re old and ‘past it.’
However you get there the thing is now you aren’t in a place you recognise from its pictures. You are like a tourist on a planet at the edge of the galaxy. Sure you’ve heard about it. You might even think you know about it. You know statistics about it – where it is – how to get there – what the atmosphere should be like – but it is so incredibly different from home that you are scared and lost and not at all sure that you are going to be able to make your way through this terrain safely.
So what are your choices? Well you might decide at first that this new place is the same as ‘home’ and that all you need to do is act exactly as you would at home. This may or may not work out for you. It’s likely that it won’t. Even if it seems to work, one day you’ll turn a corner expecting McDonalds to be there and you’ll fall down a hole. Because the thing is that this journey through life renders us all tourists, all the time.
Change is inevitable.
Our environment changes.
And it makes no difference what we want.
Nobody’s asking our assent, we’re just carried along on the change.