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An On-The-Road Epiphany

Returning from Jordan last week on Royal Jordanian Airlines, I enjoyed a cosmic moment in my life.

It started uneventfully. In a rush to get on the road to the airport in Amman that morning, I threw my headphones into a small bag I usually take on the plane. But for this trip, I had a lot of camera and video gear, so I carried on my backpack and checked the small bag beneath the plane.

Faced with an 11-hour flight, I slipped open the airline headphones, plugged them into the console and began a cursory review of the music available on board.

David Byrne with the Talking Heads said years ago that there are only “two kinds of music — mine and everybody else’s.” He’s right, of course. The chances of me finding anything on an airliner that I would listen to were remote. I’m an indie rock guy, and it’s been 20 years since I’ve listened to a commercial radio station.

But one album — and I do mean vinyl — caught my eye. “Close to the Edge” by the ’70s rock band Yes stood out like an oversight. I’ll never know why that album was on that playlist. But it was.

So I put on my headphones and pressed “play.”

Unless you grew up in the ’60s and ’70s like I did, this column probably just went flat. But I listened to a lot of Yes in high school and college. They were a great band. As I listened to that album from start to finish for the first time since I was 19, I went back to high school, back to a small town in Kentucky.

If you asked anyone who knew me then, they’d tell you I wanted one thing in life more than any other: I wanted to travel. I wanted to travel the world and enjoy other cultures.

As I listened to “Close to the Edge” and looked around that plane at so many people so different from me, I smiled. Somewhere 38,000 feet over Turkey on a flight path heading out over the North Sea toward home by way of Canada, it dawned on me: I had done it.

At first, I thought about how lucky I was. Then I remembered the trip I had just done in a land where three different faiths were born.

So I corrected myself. I’m not lucky. I’m blessed.


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Mac Lacy

Mac Lacy is president and publisher of The Group Travel Leader Inc. Mac has been traveling and writing professionally ever since a two-month backpacking trip through Europe upon his graduation with a journalism degree from the University of Evansville in 1978.