You know how people used to require formal introductions by a mutual third party in order to begin conversation or become better acquainted?
I don’t like to travel.
Let me elaborate: I like being new places, but I really don’t enjoy the process of getting there. The thought of arranging for a place to stay, paying for it, packing, getting up, driving six billion hours, and paying more money for gas, food, etc…it’s enough to make me want to cancel the trip entirely and hide under the covers. I actually get nauseous thinking about it and going through with any travel plans is a struggle. And I consider anything farther away than one and a half hours “a trip.”
Perhaps its because I like comfort and convenience. I’ve been heavily spoiled by this age of cars, trains, and airplanes. Traveling has never been easier, and it takes a lot less time and money than it used to. I’ve never known anything else, so I often forget how lucky I am to have a car that makes a trip that would have taken me a week by horse only a few hours. Still, I despise going to an area I don’t know well that is far away from anything I recognize as a safe haven. Trying to take everything you might need and plan for contingencies while still being mobile is very stressful.
I was reminded of all of these things when I drove up to New York State this weekend to attend the wedding of two of my friends. I was reminded of all the anxiety and hassle that comes with travelling. But, I was also reminded of something else: the power and beauty of geography.
I’ll admit that I haven’t actually read the book this time. (But I do own a copy.) I did watch National Geographic’s video version that has the author, Jared Diamond, as its host covering the same material that was in the book…so I think that counts. The book, and movie, is entitled Guns, Germs, & Steel: The Fates of Human Societies and takes an in-depth look at why there are haves and have-nots in the world. Why did European societies rise to such great technological heights while African societies, for the most part, remain under-privileged? It is not because one race is inherently superior to another…every derivation of human has its share of the talented and the talent-less, the smart and the stupid, the weak and the strong…so what caused some societies to develop rapidly while others did not? As a writer, this is a fascinating and complex question to be answered and does a lot to advance one’s world-building.