Courageous Earth Travelers

By David Miron-Wapner

My youngest son returned this week from another leg in his post-Army adventure on the road to his future. Along the way he was fortunate to discover his passion and intends to apprentice in a gourmet Italian restaurant. His future as a chef/restaurateur is clearly laid out in his mind’s eye.

What challenges, opportunities and obstacles he may encounter are sure to test his resolve and skills. His passion, along with his recent creative traveling encounters with the world, from Australia to New Zealand to Thailand, Myanmar, Indonesia, Bali, Philippines and Laos, will add to his capacity for resilience. Allowing for a continued mode of perceiving each day as a creative traveler does will keep him open to acquisition of a new body of knowledge.

At the end of my law studies I embarked on a similar journey, albeit through southern Europe, North Africa and the Middle East. A seasoned traveler next to me on one of the maiden flights of the pioneering budget airline, Laker Airways shared his wisdom of the road as facilitating movement from one side of the brain to the other. For me that meant moving beyond the zone of comfortable patterns of thought and experience. When we allow ourselves the space and time to appreciate each step as part of an unfolding process; amazing happens.

Courageously encountering the world anew each day brings fresh perspectives. My wife, older son, who is completing a BSc in Environmental Sciences, and I, met our younger traveler son in Myanmar. We had visited Burma thirty years ago. Apparently, one upside of the repressive, anti-democratic 50-year old military regime and its steadfast refusal to permit rampant consumerism and development is a remarkable sense of environmental preservation. Eighty-five percent of the population still lives and works on the land.


At the same time, I could not desist from wondering how pristine isolation from globalization might shield it from or make it more vulnerable to the impacts of climate change. Already, for a few years in a row, the rainy season seems to have come earlier in Myanmar. Flooding, a traditional problem will likely become more frequent and widespread as the Himalayan glaciers continue to shrink.

The old adage “you can run, but you cannot hide” holds true for all nations, regions and people. Humanity’s collective creative courage must be summoned in the encounter with a hotter world. Adaptation will not be the same slow, evolutionary process allowing us the luxury of time we have enjoyed since the dawn of civilization. Rather, ever more intense storms, droughts and flooding will challenge our resilience and capacity to innovate. Will we respond to these new experiences as courageous traveler’s bound together on our beautiful planet’s journey in space or will we merely long for past comfort as we are buffeted by the winds of change?

As I anticipate Paul Simon’s concert this evening let me close with words from the song “Love and Blessings” on his new album: “If the summer kept a secret, It was heaven’s lack of rain, Golden days and amber sunsets, Let the scientists complain, Came the autumn, drained of color, Ghosts in the water beg for more, Maple trees just a little bit duller, Than the memory of the year before.”