On Earth, 12,450 miles is the farthest anyone can get from home. Take one more step in any direction, and you will have started your return journey from the halfway point.
Until I visit one of these places (aka 45° meridian east), I came as close to that point as I ever have last month. The distance from my home in Provo, Utah, to Durban, South Africa, is over 10,000 miles, where I began a life-changing journey through the motherland.
I should have grasped this impressive separation sooner than I did. Upon booking airfare, total flight time read more than 20 hours. “That’s a long flight,” I thought to myself, before moving to other arrangements.
The tremendous distance didn’t fully register until a few days after my arrival, upon receiving a courtesy text from my mother-in-law about my five-year-old daughter. She’s having a tough time with you away.
That didn’t surprise me. In fact, my daughter’s face seems to break whenever her mother or I leave for even a night. In those moments, I somehow succeed in fighting back tears. But I often cry inside, and I always question the importance of the journey at hand.
On this trip, however, I was too enamored with our adventure to appreciate just how far from home I was. That is until home called me, which tugged on my heartstrings, ignited my curiosity and ended with Google Maps calculating and returning my precise distance from home—10,220 miles.
The reality hit me hard. I quickly felt longing, love, helplessness and even a three-second panic-attack. After my emotions settled, logic took over and I felt alive, impermanence and gratitude. Gratitude for family, friends and memories back home. Gratitude for new friends, new experiences and new perspectives in such a sacred place.
As it’s often been said, home is where you hang your hat. But it’s also where you leave your heart. “I have not been here a week, but my main reflection is the importance of relationships,” wrote professor Thomas Mobley of Cincinatti, upon finding himself halfway around the world in China.
Nomadic blogger Absolutely Lucy similarly discovered that “Distance is a great tool for telling which relationships are worth it,” and space is sometimes needed to remind us of what and who we value most.
Upon realizing how far you are from those you love, something awakens inside. It did in me, especially at such a foreign distance. It will in you, too—the farther you travel from the people and places you love.
Wherever you are on this sometimes reflective, often spiritual, and largely homebound holiday, I hope you enjoyed loving and warm relationships near and far this year. If not, I hope you find or at least rekindle some in the coming year. And whether in your own backyard or 10,000 miles from home, I hope you use travel to strengthen those bonds.
Photo: Kacper Gunia, CC-BY
Off the Grid columnist Blake Snow writes epic stories for fancy publications and Fortune 500 companies. Follow him on Twitter.