On looking out at trees

May 2, 2011 § Leave a comment

He has drawn back the hotel curtains and, behind the thin gauze blind, all that is visible are trees.

These conferences happen at so many places now, and with such regularity. Five years ago he’d have jumped at the chance. Business travel always seemed so glamorous – striding through airports with a sense of purpose, unfettered by the worry of having to make conversation with one’s family for two weeks in some disappointing resort – but increasingly he finds that no matter how prepared for flight he might be, it is the people with sports gear, laughing with friends, that he envies. His tidy cabin luggage, his down-pat in-flight routines – it’s all nothing compared to those guys with their unwieldy snowboard bags, or that woman going through security cumbersome in her mountaineering boots. For them this is a conduit to fun and perhaps adventure. For him, it’s just another podium. Another lectern, another sea of faces lit by the screens of their laptops as they tweet their presence and respond to quasi-urgent email instead of listening to his thoughts and observations. Every one of them knows that the real event of the conference is the conversations in the bar later.

It is still early, though, and here he is, sitting at the edge of the bed, uncomfortable in the hotel’s bathrobe. He’s given today’s presentation a handful of times, probably to the same set of conference tourists, but right now his mind is as blank as the view in front of him. Nobody back home to think of and wish he was there. Nothing to latch on to and think about, no sage blog post to compose. Nothing to see through the bedroom’s huge picture window, save for the same scots pine, recurring a thousand times.

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