Around the World
05 June 2017
I’m standing on the launch pad once again. Today is my last day stateside as I ready myself for another leap into an uncertain stretch of time abroad.
I’ve spent the past seven months back home in Tennessee, working my paintbrush across the suburbs of the Memphis area. I am not financially prepared for this season of travel, but that’s been a common theme throughout the last few trips I’ve taken, but I don’t mind it as much as you may think. It puts me in a place of urgency, and though anxiety-inducing, it helps me to take the extroverted steps necessary to reach out to others and propel myself through a more interesting and adventurous narrative. I can’t hide away in luxury suites or penthouse apartments and close myself off from the locals. A tight budget forces me to scour Couch Surfing hosts or work-exchange programs, all of which offer a behind the scene look at the culture I’m visiting
This is why I travel. To connect with other people on their playing field and in their own homes. To play the guest and soak up experiences that are so far from my norm that all I can do is listen in wonder. A friend once told me that every person you meet acts as a mirror. Each person shows you a reflection of yourself drawn out through the lifetime of that relationship. And as the cliches suggest, that traveling is a way of finding yourself, perhaps it’s only a matter of seeing yourself differently.
At the end of every trip, I am a different collection of experiences than I was at the start, but more importantly, I think I’m just more aware of how unimportant I really am. I’m not one in a million. I’m one in a couple billion, and while it’s fascinating that I’m different than anyone else, it’s a dreadful measure of insignificance on a universal scale. And yet all this offers some sense of freedom. Freedom from rejection and acceptance, from human standards of wealth or power or prestige. I am just one in the bunch, and I’m okay with that. I am content in that.
Arrival at JFK
New York City, New York
I’m at my friend’s flat, sitting on his bed and staring at a massive map of the world hung on his wall. This map is printed entirely in Russian, and it’s a reminder of how foreign this world is to me. I’ve spent a lot of time away from home, but I don’t consider myself well-traveled. Even after this trip, all I can see is how much of the world I’ve yet to visit.
I feel like I’m a skipping stone, and I ask myself, how much can a stone experience the lake as it’s skimmed across the surface? A stone too eager to skip in leaps and bounds without fully immersing myself in the greater unknown. Maybe I should let myself sink every once in a while and experience a place beneath the surface.
Last day in the States
Ahead of me lies a winding road that stretches for five months in an eastward direction. I fly to Amsterdam this evening after a brief nine-hour layover in Oslo. I have a few meetings with friends planned for the first few weeks, but very quickly I’ll be off doing my own thing. Each month I hope to visit another continent, visiting six of the seven throughout this expedition. In broad strokes the trip may begin with a casual European excursion through the Netherlands, Germany, France, Spain, and Italy, then into Morocco and the Canary Islands, over to Turkey, Israel, Nepal, Japan, Australia, New Zealand, Argentina, and Brazil. But I don’t know. I won’t know until I get there. I may see five of those countries listed, or I may stay in two places for an extended period of time, but whats important is that I don’t turn around. I make my way eastward and I keep going until I end up back in the states.
I won’t state my intentions for this trip right now, but I do have bigger plans for the future upon my return. I’ve spoken to many people privately about this, but expect an announcement later this winter or next spring. You can sign up below for the newsletter to make sure you’re notified when I’m ready to share.
I’ll aim for weekly updates, but no promises. Instagram may be updated more regularly. I’ve had a pleasant stay in Boston and the New England area with friends and family, even had a chance encounter with a friend I’ve met on two previous visits to this city. I took it as a sign of positive things to come. Made two acquaintances in a Lyft ride which brought about an invitation to a possible trip in Greece and Turkey. Things are looking good. If our lives are stories, all we can do is hope to make it to the next page. At the end of my life, I just hope there’s a book worth reading.
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