Monday, June 30, 2008

Staying Close

I’m thinking very carefully these days before jumping in the car. Our family is combining trips and maximizing every excursion, whether to Greensboro or just to downtown Stokesdale. It seems that everyone is making adjustments.

Some people are selling their gas guzzlers. Some are car pooling. I even talked to a guy who plans to fit his Suburban with a homemade device that will double his mileage. I can’t wait to see if it really works.

In some ways it seems like the world of transportation has taken a great leap back to an earlier era. Transportation has never been as easy as today. With it suddenly getting more expensive, we are recognizing travel as a bigger deal. That’s more in line with the historical perspective on getting about.

A hundred years ago, people who lived 20 miles outside of town might only go to town once a month. It was a big event to travel to the city. Extended families also tended to stay close to home, rather than moving across the country.

Back then it made sense to stay closer, because transportation was hard work. People walked a lot, even from one town to another. You would have to plan your week around ten-mile trip to another town. Then horses and buggies made travel a little better, but it was still time spent in the elements, and a rough ride, too. Trains allowed people to travel great distances, but a train ride required considerable planning and it was not cheap.

With all the hurdles to transportation, people traveled less.

Today, transportation is really cushy, with A/C, cup holders, cruise control, power windows, radios and CD players. It is not a rugged experience, unless you are flying half-way across the world. But suddenly travel is becoming much more expensive. With the added cost, we are now seeing transportation a little bit more like our ancestors did.

But there are plenty of benefits of staying closer to home. We get to know our neighbors. We find fun things to do around the neighborhood. We share rides with friends. We spend time with our families. We spend time outdoors with cookouts and horseshoes. We spend time visiting with people. We might also spend more time with God.

I think that less travel may well be a blessing to our relationships. If we are intentional about it, and if we seek God in it, the changes can really make life much better for us. Sounds good to me.