Soul Lag

Soul Delay
Soul Delay by James Morrison, on Flickr

Did you ever get back from traveling and feel like you’re not quite at the top of your game? This is especially true with long distance jet travel. You step into a glistening time capsule in Istanbul, for example, and not too long after you step back out of the time capsule into the sunlight of Newark, New Jersey. You’re tired and addled. But there’s something more. Soul lag.

I’ve just been introduced to this quirky-but-compelling concept via Linda Hollier, and it reminds me a bit of a chat that Pico Iyer delivered at the 92nd Street Y in Manhattan a few years back.

unlike other books or especially TV shows… that seem to move folks around the globe as if this was no big deal… Gibson actually discusses the problem of world travel, and encapsulates it in a single phrase: soul lag. It’s not that you’re tired, or that there’s some mysterious thing associated with jet travel known as “jet lag”… instead, he acknowledges that one feels, well, not quite all there when one gets to another place, as if your soul, unlike your body, cannot travel as fast as an airplane and therefore takes a little while to catch up with you… it’s like you’re existing about half an inch to the left of your actual body, and you can’t seem to reconnect with it… sometimes, in extreme circumstances, your soul never catches up. (second americano)

I’m especially keen on the visual image of my shadow self still trailing behind, trying to catch up, sort of like the visual traces in “old school” television.

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