Tag Archives: Travel
We all keep something of field journal as we travel through life. In it we chart maps, we make observations, we note the things we know to be true.
We collect moments and press them like flowers in its pages. We place a stamp to mark the place we call home. We transcribe lines of music to capture the songs that we sing.
In many ways our field book looks like a dictionary, containing the definitions of the things most powerful to us. Things like ‘love’ and ‘strength’ and ‘freedom’. We make two-columned tables of concepts we believe to have clear opposites, like ‘good’ and ‘bad’, ‘right’ and ‘wrong’. We make lists with titles like ‘who I am’ and ‘who I am not.’
We bring this field book along on all of life’s adventures, pulling it out of our pocket and adding a new line each time we encounter something we’ve not experienced before.
In these books, we are taught that our strokes should be quite firm, notes quite permanent, definitions quite solid. That we should be unquestioning of its contents and secure in what we know to be true. That there is strength in the wielding of a pen.
But the problem with pen is that it’s permanent. And if we are paying attention, it is inevitable we will encounter things that don’t fit into the categories we’ve made. Things that push the line between ‘good’ and ‘bad’ or that contradict entirely the definitions we’ve kept for longer than we remember: That to love does not mean to own or to keep. That seeming acts of goodness can also be self-serving and selfish. That almost nothing can be condensed into just ‘this’ and ‘that.’
These encounters are a test of our ego. Because to recognize they exist is to recognize we were limited in our views, that there’s something more there, or that we were wrong all together. And I believe our reaction to these encounters is everything. That there are too many people in high places with pens clenched tight, unwilling to go back, re-read, and re-write. Unwilling to take a step in a different direction. Unwilling to sing a different tune.
But if you ask me, there is something stronger than the wielding of a pen. Something much more suited to the the filling of a field journal, to the note taking of life.
A pencil is versatile: a tip that can make marks both light and heavy, shaded or scratched, and an end that can erase them all together. A tool which embodies that what was true does not define what is true. That who we were does not define who we are. That a story can change in an instant.
Because to move through life with an open mind is to fill page after page without being too attached to the contents of any one of them. To be amazed and intrigued when something calls for our notes to be re-evaluated and re-defined. That the sign of curious heart is a field journal full of words and scribbles and sketches and very few solid lines..cover worn and pages crinkled from the constant practice of being pulled from a pocket and flipped through forwards and back.
To live is to change. That’s why I choose pencil over pen.
I once met a boy who could stop time. Capture a moment and hold it in the palm of his hand, focusing in on the details that might otherwise have become faded and creased as memories do, or lost in time all together left behind somewhere along a mountain range.
I knew a girl who could teleport people to dreams and far away places with the words that came from her pencil. And another who could turn anyone else into the most fascinating person in all the world. She’d do it by asking good questions and listening hard and then she’d watch the person transform before her very eyes.
Do we have super powers? As a matter of fact, I believe that we do.
And if there’s one superpower I’d like to harness within myself, it’s the power to become liquid.
I think the first inclination for many is exactly the opposite—to be solid, like a stone, rolling through life. Over time, the world around them chips away and smooths their edges, shaping them into something that only slightly resembles their previous form. But the process is slow. And the balance is off. They knock down more than they allow to knock at them.
What I’m talking about is a state that’s more fluid, a relationship with the world that’s more dynamic.
Liquids are gentle in their movements but powerful in their impact. They fill the empty spaces around them, both shaping to their surroundings and shaping them. And on the way, their components are ever-rearranging, ever-evolving, defying definitions and simple explanations.
To be liquid doesn’t mean totally losing one’s self and the core aspects of one’s identity in the journey through life, for liquids mold to their environment but never lost their substance; they are comprised of the same components, yet things can mix with them, add to them, make them better. And to be liquid doesn’t mean being powerless to affecting the environment around one’s self, for what’s really more gracefully powerful than an ocean wave?
Rather, to be liquid takes imagination—a superpower in itself. A willingness to pretend, to make believe, to become something new, even if just for today. To listen, to observe, to appreciate, to change. To make all things possible.
Liquidity is life itself. And to harness that would be a superpower indeed.
Wherever you may go, for whatever you make take—be it memory or a story or a moment captured in a photograph—leave something in its place. A bit of good. A piece of your heart. A dream. A wish. Something only you are capable of sharing.
So often travel can be a one-sided experience..consumption of places and the things and people they hold. Life on the other hand is about balance..a give and take at each turn. So when you go somewhere—be it for a day, a week, a month, a year—go not to travel, but to live.
Be a part of that place and the people who make it what it is. Live like the locals. Roll up your sleeves. Earn your keep. Observe without judgement. Listen without a response already written out. Skip the research. Forgo expectations. Instead, let those places and people define themselves to you. Give them the chance to tell their own story, then contribute a line of your own.
Curiosity will get you far..further than you ever imagined. An open heart and open mind are keys to unlocking the possibilities of a place..and the possibilities within yourself. Because exploring this world is both a responsibility and an opportunity. One to add depth and color within ourselves, and one to leave strokes of those colors behind in the places we’ve touched and the ones that have touched us.
If we are freedom, we should set another free. If we have power, we should should empower somebody else.
…Sometimes giving someone the gift of your unexpecting, unjudging, undivided attention is freedom in itself.
A gift we can give, no matter how much is in our pocket.
Reality has a way of mirroring expectation.
…What we put forth is what we get back.
Expect to find beauty and beauty you will find. See the light in others and light they will share.
In a house carved into rock in ancient times I thought about how the shaping of our identity is not so different from the process of hands chipping away at stone, creating within it a place to call home.
We all begin with an outermost layer shaped by the contexts around us—the should’s and the shouldn’ts, the cans and the can’ts, the words we’re told we are and are not. As we move through life we chip away at this shell, identify its weakest points and let fall away the parts that don’t hold. What’s to be found beneath is not unlike crystals—the multifaceted pieces of our soul developed under pressure..the unique bits that define us and comprise the gifts we have to share with the world. Chipping away even further we reach our core—the innate and intrinsic components that make us human. If we get this far I think we find that our innermost pieces are not so different from the person next to us..or the person across the word. We are all made of the same materials, just arranged in innumerable different and incredible ways.
I can’t say for certain as I’ve only just cracked the surface, but I’ll keep on chipping away till I find out.
January 20The most creative act we will ever undertake is the act of creating ourselves.
…A work that we may never finish. But that perhaps the artists to come will use our
Living is art itself.