Trudge, Trudge

The other day, not being busy, we decided to circumnavigate Terminal 1 of Toronto’s Lester B. Pearson International Airport (hereinafter LBPIA). On foot.

No, no, that’s not true, we didn’t quite circumnavigate it, although as we doubled back completely on our seemingly endless path (one way!) from arrival gate to Canada Customs (Connecting Flights subdivision)–Oh look, there’s our arrival gate on the other side of the glass–and hopped awkwardly on-and-off occasional moving sidewalks before being spit out into the domestic-flights concourse at the farthest-possible remove from where we next needed to be, it certainly *felt* true.

It was, we might say, our trudged experience.

I live in Ottawa. The local Macdonald-Cartier International Airport (name review pending, I’m sure, since the statue of Macdonald and Cartier that used to adorn the Arrivals Hall has already been removed) is too small to use the moving sidewalks that are a feature of larger airports. That day, even before our LBPIA expotition, we had used them extensively as we wandered Denver International Airport (I would say “wisely named after no one” but of course the airport was named for the city which was named by a land speculator for an 1850s territorial governor for the purpose of influencing his decision on where to locate the seat of county government, although news travelled so slowly then that the namer didn’t realize Denver-the-man was no longer governor, which is a sad waste of an attempted, albeit unsubtle, influence operation. News has not yet reached me on whether the namesake was then, or is now, problematic.).

Anyway, this week, for the first time, the moving sidewalk was not just (pick all that apply):

  • a welcome mobility assist in otherwise endless corridors
  • a stumbling/tripping hazard
  • a source of embarrassment as younger passengers stride past on the unassisted portion of the corridor (even past a senior walking steadily, dagnab it, along the moving sidewalk)

No, for the first time the moving sidewalk struck me as a metaphor for living in community.

Are groups and organizations and even my whole society already moving–however slowly–in the direction I want to go? Do the elements of my life and my community offer me a welcome assist as I trudge along? Or am I moving entirely under my own power? Or, even harder, am I effectively running up a down-escalator, having to overcome movement exactly counter to my intended direction?

It is what it is, I guess, and there’s nothing inherently wrong about doing it all by myself or even moving counter-flow: It might be the best decision for me and for my community. But I can think about whether and how to leverage the moving sidewalks that are laid out for me.

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12 Responses to Trudge, Trudge

  1. Tom Watson says:

    The other option, I guess, is that we are being inexorably moved in a particular direction, irrespective of whether we like it. Sometimes we move, sometimes we stand and wait, sometimes life changes the gate. The airport is an apt metaphor.

  2. John Whitman says:

    Isabel – part of your acronym for Lester B. Pearson International Airport (LBPIA) reminded me of my travels in Pakistan on PIA (Pakistan International Airline). Unfortunately, or perhaps aptly, many locals refer to PIA as Pakistan Insh’Allah, which translates from Urdu to “You’ll arrive on time if God wills it.” (My flight did in fact arrive on time.)

    • Isabel Gibson says:

      John – 🙂 Late is one thing: I’m less willing to have the arrival itself widely seen as uncertain. I think that Ariana Afghanistan Airlines earned the nickname “Scariana Air” from folks used to North American safety standards.

      • John Whitman says:

        Scariana Air – good to know. Fortunately for me, the Russians controlled things in Afghanistan when I was in Pakistan – otherwise I wouldn’t have been in Pakistan.

        • Isabel Gibson says:

          John – I don’t think we as Canadians have much insight into where CAF members are working or visiting around the world . . .

  3. You can congratulate yourself on all those exercise sessions that fit you for such a frustrating experience. How you manage to keep your sense of humour in such a maze is a marvel! My fantasies of blue-haired grannies wafting off to see the grandkids have been dashed. Travel is no longer for the faint of heart or failing heart.

    • Isabel Gibson says:

      Laurna – Yes, travel gets harder every year – and more precious. I remember when my mother quietly slid into “wheelchair assist”. For day-to-day purposes she could walk fine with a walker, but she couldn’t handle the route marches required by airports.

  4. barbara carlson says:

    I hate the end of those moving sidewalks — it’s like waking up after a dream of being able to fly, if only inches above the ground, wondering why I didn’t travel this way before — and expecting reality to match it. A real let-down. Same with the reality check at the end of those too-short sidewalks, especially if one walks fast along them.

    • Isabel Gibson says:

      Barbara – 🙂 They can end with a clunk, that’s for sure. Suddenly we’re walking merely normally…

  5. Judith Umbach says:

    Glad you were able to transform such a long trudge into a philosophical meditation. I certainly have no answers.

    • Isabel Gibson says:

      Judith – 🙂 That reminds me of the Feynman quote: “I would rather have questions that can’t be answered than answers that can’t be questioned.” OK, we’re good to go, then.

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