Allen On Travel

A 30 year veteran of world travel (but knows nil about Orlando-area attractions), Will Allen III writes about his weekly odysseys by air on business and how the airlines rob him--and you--of time, the most precious commodity on earth. Time: It's all we have, and the airlines routinely take it from us. This blog challenges the airlines to keep their basic promises.

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Location: Raleigh, North Carolina, United States

Born 1948 in Kinston, NC and raised there in beautiful eastern North Carolina, I now live in Raleigh and commute around the country and the world.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Reflections On 14 Months of Not Flying Much

After 31 years of constant weekly flying to here, there, and everywhere while toiling away in the consulting game, one day I woke up in another strange hotel and found I couldn't take the horse feathers any more. So I left the life.

I took a breather in late April, 2008, 14 months ago, and stopped--just stopped--flying. Just like that. I went home and decided to stay home for a few months to see what it would be like.

I had no intentions of retiring, and I still don't. In fact I was planning to go back on the road to replenish the family coffers late last summer when...well, you know what happened to the economy. Now consulting's as dead as Adam's housecat, and I couldn't BUY a consulting job in today's economy.

Fourteen months seems like an eternity to be away. Yet I cannot fathom that it's been over a year since I left the airport/rental car/hotel grind. The time has passed so quickly, filled with mundane family matters that I have come to dearly love, and with reflection.

The reduction of stress and dropping out of my former forever-busy schedule have afforded me time to reflect. To my surprise, some days I have ambivalent feelings about life. I no longer think the pursuit of happiness means that I’ll ever find an everlasting pot of gold at the end of that rainbow.

Instead, with the usual ups and downs of moods, I find myself noticing and appreciating many small happinesses at home every day: my daughter (age 5) thrilled that she has lost her first tooth (and me scrambling to hide money under her pillow); my son (age 10) going to the piano time and again just because he likes to play; my son (same son!) asking to watch another Marx Brothers movie because he likes the humor so much; my wife pottering around in the kitchen making something she likes to cook just because she likes to cook; me trimming our giant hedge out front and finally finishing it; my ducks begging for attention by the back door like they were dogs; the chipmunks in the back yard gradually losing their fear of us; rain; sun; clouds; wind; cold; heat; a tiny spider crawling up my arm, just out of his egg; Mozart; eating bagels with my kids at Bruegger’s on Sunday morning (nearest thing we have to family worship).

Well, you get the picture. The sadness creeps in when I reflect that I spent over 30 years in a temporary job (consulting) and never found the vocation that I always felt spiritually I was destined to succeed in (I still have no idea what it might have been)—a terrible feeling of being unfulfilled like Prufrock in T. S. Eliot’s poem (“I have seen the moment of my greatness flicker…”).

I feel sad, too, when I think of the stupid things I have said to people sometimes, the small unkind moments, when I knew better but didn’t live up to my own standards.

I also feel sad that I am never likely to work again, or if I do, it will not likely be in any meaningful role.

On the whole, however, I have always ascribed to the quote that “Life is a struggle, but not a warfare.” I relish many more moments than either bore me to tears or beleaguer me with woe. Maybe it’s because I have a fine sense of irony and a wicked sense of humor, including about myself. Anyway, I can’t go back, so I focus on the present more than I ever have, and I don’t worry too much about what’s coming.

And I sure don't miss going to the airport!


Blogger hulananni said...

I also feel sad that I am never likely to work again, or if I do, it will not likely be in any meaningful role.

Hey....a very meaningful role is father! Happy Father's Day....

6/19/2009 2:47 PM  
Anonymous Kevin Morgan said...


I can understand the overall tenor of your piece being positive - reconnecting with the things you've missed while traveling. But if you feel that any work you may do in the future "will not likely be in any meaningful role," then do something about it. Volunteer. Surely you've learned enough in your life on the road to be a volunteer in your local schools. You've certainly learned enough to help out with any number of charitable organizations, from food banks to support organizations for a local cultural, historical, or other entity.

When the time comes to total up where you had an impact, it won't be in the high-end consulting and other jobs that you'll have had an impact; it'll be in the lives of the people you've helped. Use the time on your hands to make the world a better place, if only for a few people. That'll make more of an impact than all the consulting gigs in the world.

6/20/2009 12:20 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Well, I had a similar experience, thought I'd arranged a move that wouldn't compromise my business, thought I'd worked out a satisfactory arrangement involving travel to work with my former customers. They never told me they had no intention of my coming back to work with them. And I thought these people were friends. However, I've reconnected with my love of cooking, I feel texture in my days of walking with new friends in the woods near where I live, I am happy I'm beginning to pick up work in this lovely city I've wanted to return to for 30 years. Sure, I'd like to have more money, but I think I have my life back. I think Will has his life back too, and just hasn't realized it yet. But he's on the verge. . . .

10/02/2009 4:28 PM  

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