I am working on my class for Thursday night.
“Hi there! How are you tonight?
I’ll be your instructor for Beyond London. Is everyone in the right class?”
"Think of England," I tell them, "then quickly tell me the first thing that comes to mind."
While I’m preparing the class, I’m trying to understand the points I want to make. I quickly realize how difficult it is to say “this is England”.
When we travel to England, we think we know what England is… that it is Big Ben or Buckingham Palace, or the Queen. It's kind of like the story about the elephant:
They had no idea what an elephant is. They decided, "Even though we would not be able to see it, let us go and feel it anyway." All of them went where the elephant was. Everyone of them touched the elephant.
"Hey, the elephant is a pillar," said the first man who touched his leg.
"Oh, no! it is like a rope," said the second man who touched the tail.
"Oh, no! it is like a thick branch of a tree," said the third man who touched the trunk of the elephant.
"It is like a big hand fan" said the fourth man who touched the ear of the elephant.
"It is like a huge wall," said the fifth man who touched the belly of the elephant.
"It is like a solid pipe," Said the sixth man who touched the tusk of the elephant.
The truth is that England is like the elephant. It can be viewed in so many different ways and is as unique as the person seeking to travel it. Some of you will say that you want to go hiking. Some will say you want to see the sights of London. Some will say that the history draws you, or the music, or afternoon teas or whatever.
My task is to give you a brief glimpse of England so that you can make up your own mind about what it is and what you want from your trip.
And how does someone do that in one class? How does someone do that in a lifetime?
I get surveys back all the time that say, “but you didn’t cover xyz.”
And all I have to say to that is, “I didn’t have time.”
So, I flash a few pictures. I explain the currency, the transportation and lodging options. And, though I’m not much of a geek, I attempt to explain SIM cards and smart phones.
I look into eager eyes. Eager minds that want to be transported beyond the looking glass. Avalon and Isaac Newton. Wordsworth and the Beatles.
“I have an hour,” I tell them.
It's a start.