Jet Lag: A Directional Refreshment

While travel graces our eyes with new perspectives, jet lag freshens our routine at home.


When we travel from east to west, we go back in time, gaining a day. Rather than struggling to overcome jet lag upon returning from an overseas journey, we should attempt to grasp onto jet lag for as long as possible. We should fight jet lag while we are in a foreign territory, but embrace it, stoking its desynchronized vapors, upon homecoming.

Optimizing my productivity, jet lag has me on a natural schedule, waking up at the most solitary hours of morning and dozing off just as the sun tucks into the earth. We return from our travels carrying the residues of another land’s time and space, so that while it may be an empty, nighttime world here, our leg muscles twitch with excitement, accustomed to venturing through new sights, smells, and tastes. These inspiring new energies can be thrown into work without disruption.

It’s not as if we travel east by boat, pacing each shifting degree into the deepening day or night, conditioning ourselves to the approaching proximity of a new custom. Instead, we are teleported there in fourteen hours; like dropped-off cargo, we are thrown, sleepy-eyed, into a bustling day, too freshly plucked from our habitat. The disruption cannot regain homeostasis as we superimpose a new daily scheme upon our system. Agitated circadian rhythms ensue, and we frisk site to site like mismatched puzzle pieces. Those lost hours compress within us the burden of time.

When we return home, the wrested hours have accumulated on us, like a bulbous cyst, only to be drained away slowly in escaping vapors, lost to time. We show up at home as if returning from a time warp. Nothing seems to have changed, but we are different; we are physiologically, chronologically, and psychologically desynchronized from everyone else around us. But rather than letting those compressed hours evaporate uselessly, we should accept the gifts the journey confers. While travel graces our eyes with new perspectives, jet lag freshens our routine at home, gifting us with an early start—an early morning solitude in which to reflect. The onslaught of late night events and libation engagements are bound to corrupt a jet lagged routine, but relish it as long as you can.

Drisana Misra

Originally from Mountain Brook, AL, Drisana can't travel without a compilation of short stories. Her secret travel tip is, "Write down every reflection, no matter how stupid and even if you think you’ll remember it later."

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