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My first intercontinental trip was quite an overwhelming experience, as likely it is for many people. I went to the United States for a conference, and I can still remember clearly the emotions of being on a long flight, and arriving in a country so different from what I was used to. Everything was exciting, even little things like turning on the TV and see an American football game being broadcasted, or waking up at five in the morning because of the jetlag. Jetlag itself was an interesting one. It was the real first experience of my circadian rhythm. I found it so funny and amazing at the same time, the fact that my body could get out of synchronization just because of a different destination time.

But was it all? I recently had a conversation with a friend about this. His opinion was that long distance travel jetlag is more than a simple physiological experience, and it would also come from the fact that our spiritual part is not able to travel as fast as a high-speed aircraft (not even with a business class ticket), and it simply needs some time to catch up with our physical part. That would help explaining the weird state of mind experienced during jetlag, which would finally come from being ‘temporarily incomplete’.

I found it an interesting theory, also for the fact that my friend is not a religious person. But I think it does not take a believer to feel that human beings, with their feelings, hopes, dreams, and relentless pursuit of truth, are more than just the result of chemical reactions.

This conversation made me think also about how it can easily happen that even in my (sometimes hectic) daily life my spiritual part may get out of synchronization with the rest of myself, even without any long distance travel. And it reminded me of how important it is that I make time every day to allow the former to catch up with the latter, that I allow myself to repossess my time. My “kairos” in particular, which ancient Greeks identified as the moment where opportunities happen, which is different from the “chronos”, the chronological time. Chronos goes by indifferently, without waiting for me anyway, so no need to become its slave.

Pietro Bonizzi, Assistant Professor at Data Science and Knowledge Engineering



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