Shrinking World

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It’s a small world, as the saying goes. Richard Friedlander says the older he gets the smaller the world gets, and he’s fine with that.

Anthropologists tell us that human beings began as hunter/gatherers and many thousands of years later learned how to till the soil. From picking up stakes with the seasons, and living more or less on the move, they now remained in one place the whole year, in permanent houses, and traveled beyond their cultivated fields only to trade.

The individual life reflects this same movement from nomadic to sedentary. And yet, tens of thousands of years have not banished the inner hunter/gatherer, even in those who prefer to leave their couch only on hearing the call of the wild kitchen, yet can still travel the world with Rick Steves or through time through historical dramas.

When I was young, I never thought twice about uprooting myself to poke about in faraway places. And I always traveled single, because coming of age experiences rebel against being shared with others.

As I grew older, my focus turned - rather belatedly - to establishing myself in one place and all that goes with it: numerous acquaintances, a few tried and true friends, and one lifelong companion.

Now that I am older still, I prefer not to travel at all. Not that I have lost my curiosity - heaven forbid! - or don’t like to meet new people, or have new adventures, or learn something new, but my real interest is in digging deeper into what I already have and the things around me. To reduce the hunter/gatherer and be what now suits me, a farmer. When I do travel, I want it to be a shared experience. Otherwise, I am more than content to sit in our garden, marvel at the sky, and follow our endlessly fascinating cats as they go through their own daily cycle of rest and activity.

The great Samuel Johnson, who once said that anyone tired of London is tired of life and left that metropolis only under sufferance, was persuaded to visit the Giant’s Causeway in Northern Ireland, one of the great natural wonders of the world. On returning home, he was asked if it was worth seeing. “Worth seeing? Yes,” he replied. “Worth going to see? No.”

My sentiments exactly.

With a Perspective, I’m Richard Friedlander.

Richard Friedlander is an actor, author and mediator. He lives in the East Bay.