Gratitude For Transportation

My wife and I went to Bear Lake area for a day trip together. After gassing up the car, we drove for roughly four hours, to the Bear Lake area. After we arrived, I saw that it was different than when we had visited there a number of years previous for a family reunion – more shops, especially eateries. For some reason, milkshakes seemed to be a thing. We drove around looking for a way to actually get to the lake but the marina and the state park were full. Everything else appeared to be private property. We ended up driving into the Idaho side and ended up having a picnic on a church lawn under large shady trees in a little town called Paris (I’ve always wanted to go to Paris). A lady walking her dogs called out to us that it was a great day for a picnic and we agreed. It was sunny, peaceful, wispy clouds with baby blue skies. All of that wouldn’t have been possible if there weren’t any automobiles or support services like gas stations.

It’s hard to conceive of society without transportation – both in ancient days or in modern times. In times past, people used wagons and animals to carry goods and individuals from one place to another. At one point, they must have decided that they could tame animals to do the heavy carrying of things to make their lives easier. I suppose that even having another person carrying your belongings is a form of transportation – like what Roman soldiers were able to do – compel another person to carry their belongings for a mile. Society depends upon transportation and I am grateful for it.

It seems to me that one of the bottlenecks of civilization is the level of transportation that a society has. The more people and products that they can move to the needed locations, the faster that the society is able to plant itself in that area. So the most basic form of transportation is when people move goods themselves to a new place, but this is usually a one to one connection, or at best, a one person to one crowd connection. The true power of transportation comes from improving the method of transportation, so that the amount that is being transported increases beyond the number of people doing the transporting. For example, a fruit seller by himself might carry a few bags of apples in one trip and sell those. If he has a car, then he can sell more and if he has a semi at his disposal, he can sell yet even more. Still, he is limited to what he himself is able to transport. The next level that allows a society to flourish, it seems to me, is a many to many model.

The reason for this is that those with limited levels of transportation are also limited in their influence. I see two reasons for this. First, although cultures and societies can change through ideas and information (which do not require sophisticated transportation methods), the implementation of new ideas is important for change to stick. The more resources a group has, the greater the saturation of an area with those ideas. Second, society can be altered when a large number of people are repeatedly proposing the changes. In previous times, that meant transporting those people to new areas. Now we have the internet as a transportation medium – whether as ideas, as information channels that allow the transportation of goods, or as the transportation of money – as a digital medium – to allow the transportation of goods at a later date.

For all of the reliance we have upon transportation for our daily lives, I think we take it for granted. Gratitude means being aware of what we have and celebrating it, both the good and the bad. Yet there are many parts of our lives, transportation being one of them, where we expect them to be constantly running and available to us. Only when it stops working do we pay much attention to it and then it is often to curse it and demand that it work once again. Understandably, it is human nature to become comfortable with most of the aspects of our lives and to focus on the uncomfortable and the things that are out of sync. We are habitual creatures and pay attention to what is not in our comfort zone. So, as long as our cars, scooters, bikes, and so forth are working as we feel they should be, it drops out of our awareness and and we use them with the expectation that they will function.

Yet, gratitude means being aware of the environment and people around us and appreciating them. In the area of transportation, it means being aware of what it does for us as individuals and as a society. It is a form of communication and sustenance – we are able to live our lives because of transportation and not have to farm the food ourselves or create our own clothes, or any other number of tasks because others who do these things are able to have their goods delivered to us, many times literally to our front doors.

Let every day be one of thanksgiving as nearly everything that we use or do comes to us through transportation – either we went out and used modern travel means to get it or it is delivered to us. Let’s be grateful for all of it.

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