A better way to get there

~a column by Colleen O’Brien

Daydreaming is a time-honored endeavor. It’s invention time, it’s poetry time, it’s take-a-break time, it’s wasting time, it’s probably been going on since the first hominoids had a chance to relax for a minute when the local Giganotosaurus (length 47 feet, weight 8 tons) was way on the other side of the swamp.

I like futuristic daydreaming, as in what will the world be like in a hundred years, and how fun it will be to astral travel.

When futuristic daydreaming, I know that it’s total pie-in-the sky, that it’s never likely to happen, at least in my lifetime, but it is satisfying. It makes insomnia almost inviting. It is truly inviting after too much political news. My futuristic daydreaming is always about astral travel, the first step of which is my stopping by a phone booth and dialing up someplace else. That’s out of the question these days, so I picture myself standing on my special rug, or any rug or no rug, closing my eyes and saying, “Ponte Vecchio!” And when I open my eyes I’m standing on an old bridge in Florence, Italy.

Or I’m traveling to my kids for an afternoon beer and a chat and maybe supper and home in my own bed by 10. They live 1,000 and 3,000 miles away from me, so even the thought of getting to them is sometimes daunting. I could drop myself on the island of Bali for an afternoon at the beach or go to Boston just because I need to see more of it.

Actual travel doesn’t broaden my mind, it wearies it. I want to be there, not get there. There was a time when the getting there was okay – the broad vistas of the American West fulfilled the on-the-road longing of the American psyche. But I’ve done it way too many times to get any thrill out of I-80W over the Salt Flats of Nevada or one smidgen of romance from Route 66 through New Mexico.

I’ve flown across the Atlantic only three times, which is enough times to think unhighly of it – airplane travel itself, no matter how brief the trip, has become cattle-herding unless you’re one of the 1 percent with your own Lear. The dread factor increases with age, even though porters can squire you around in a wheelchair and put you on board first and take you off first. Having to be wheelchair-bound to get to the head of the line is not exactly an enticement.

Give me astral travel any day. It would cut down not only on human exhaustion but also the current ongoing exhaustion of all the fuel on the planet. We could clean up the air nicely if we could give up airplanes. And cars and trains and buses. Just imagine bobbing your head and instantly landing where you want to be as opposed to getting in the car. That short drive from D.C. to NYC? Nightmare. Imagine astral traveling it. That’s a daydream worth having.

Or for that matter, astraling from my house to the art film theater in Des Moines sounds like the only way I’ll ever get there for each new movie. From my house to my friend’s house outside of Minneapolis? I always intend to go but haven’t because it’s outside my usual trajectory of travel. How many times have I driven through Indianapolis and not stopped at my friend’s house? If I could just nod myself there, I would.

Even as I love my car because it’s been reliable and gets good mileage, I hate my car because I have to get in it and drive it to wherever I want to go. This means that sometimes I just don’t go. There are enough places I have to go to in my car that it seems the want-to trips are moving lower on the list. Who wants to drive home at midnight from anyplace? I could accept the wedding invite three towns away and drink all the champagne I wanted. I could investigate all the Presidential libraries in the country, visit every national park, explore Canada, have a cup of tea in County Clare, home of the O’Briens.

If we could astral, soon all the goods in 18-wheelers could astral. No more giant front-end grills up our astral backs. No more freeways endlessly under repair. No more freeways at all! No more parking lots. No more acres of cars for sale, for resale, for junk. No more wrecks, pollution, death-by-auto.

Really, scientists, inventors, venture capitalists – get with it! Research! Invent! Invest! Astral travel could be the answer to ills of the planet, mentioned above. Probably we could go to the moon! To Mars! The getaway vacay would take on a whole new meaning.

If I can daydream it, somebody can make it happen. Think Buck Rogers, Jules Verne, Disney’s future houses.

There is a formal term astral travel that has to do with the mind traveling without the body. I’m not interested in that; I do that already, and it gets me nowhere except sometimes into a better mood or out of a monotonous conversation. I want the physical astral travel, the juxtaposition of my body from here to there, wherever I deem “there” to be.

I have mentioned this before, but I’m bringing it up again: We have enough kinds of toothpaste. So all you science wizards hunched down in the laboratories of the world, switch to testing for bodily astral travel for the people of the world. It will solve SO many problems as we disappear before people’s eyes. We may be in for some problems when we return – “Where have you been all night?” — but we can think about that tomorrow. We may wind up with strangers dressed in strange duds walking past our front windows, but so what? Diversity is one of the spices of life.

If someone can dream it, someone can make it so. Daydream astral travel – get a zeitgeist going.

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