I’ve been home now for a little over 5 months… back in Louisville… back behind the espresso machine. The blog has been stagnant since my last post in Bali. It has been a thorn in my side, trying to decide where to pick up where I left off. Once I got home, I didn’t have anything to say for a while… then the void between posts seems too big to seal. Last weekend, I had the chance to reconnect with a mentor of mine from my college. We went to dinner, I told her about my blog, and we discussed some of my plans for the future. She gave me the most basic advice, yet it was heard with fresh ears, from having heard it from her. Dr. Shea told me, “Whatever you decide to do, just keep writing.” So here we go:
I am a product of a generation of American youth that has seen 1. An attack on America. 2. A war in the middle east that wasn’t clearly defined. 3. The tanking of the American economy. Things have been in such an uproar in the past 13 years that every step we make has to be done with caution. It’s no wonder that the people of my generation are living such simple lives. Growing up, conversations at the dinner table always started with, “Well, did you hear about Johnny’s dad? The economy is down, so they laid off 500 people at the plant. His dad lost his job of 23 years. Hey, didn’t they just build that new house? Yeah! And his mom just bought a new car! Wow… I would hate to be in their shoes!” After college, the risk of not getting a job was so great that if you found ANYTHING, you took it and were appreciative. So many people are afraid of changing professions, locations, or lifestyles at all. As the economy is bouncing back, we are still living in this cautious mentality.
But the point I’m getting at, is that during this period, there was no room to stray from the steady path. Everything had to be about reaching some goal. Our parents needed us to get through college with as little debt as possible for fear of not getting a job and having to start paying back student loans. If we found a job, we took it without question, because jobs were hard to come by. We were also taught to fear losing that job and having to file bankruptcy because we bought new cars and new houses and hadn’t paid back our college debt yet. Fear drove us to make progress our number one priority. Everything you did had to be done with intent. Deep down inside, I thought that my writing needed to have intent and purpose, just like everything else I did.
If I was going to write a travel blog, it needed to be successful- my first mistake. It needed to have a niche. It needed to appeal to a very specific group of people… that way I would be unique in the travel writing industry. I just wanted to write freely. I wanted to tell about my travels, but I was afraid of being anything but strait forward and informative. I thought everything needed to be done with intent and have a moral of some sort… but it doesn’t. I had slowly set up this list of guidelines for each post and it was keeping me from sitting down and flopping out a post, much like I did in the beginning.
I want to write something that is so off the wall, but get’s people to open their minds. It doesn’t have to actually say anything other than what I’m experiencing at the present moment. Lately I’ve been reading “Tropic of Cancer” by Henry Miller. This book has been inspiring me a little with every page. The more I read, the more I love how he tells stories of his fictional accounts without purpose or agenda. He writes about the moment in gorgeously vulgar honestly. One of my favorite passages so far comes from a scene where he is watching a group of French prostitutes. He recognizes himself in the act of watching… much as every traveler does.
“In that sort of half-reverie which permits one to participate in an event and yet remain quite aloof, the little detail which was lacking began obscurely but insistently to coagulate, to assume a freakish, crystalline form, like the frost which gathers on the windowpane. And like those frost patterns which seem so bizarre, so utterly free and fantastic in design, but which are nevertheless determined by the most rigid laws, so this sensation which commenced to take form inside me seemed also to be giving obedience to ineluctable laws. My whole being was responding to the dictates of an ambiance which it had never before experienced; that which I could call myself seemed to be contracting, condensing, shrinking from the stale, customary boundaries of flesh whose perimeter knew only the modulations of the nerve ends.”
“And the more substantial, the more solid the core of me became, the more delicate and extravagant appeared the close, palpable reality of which I was being squeezed… For a fraction of a second perhaps I experienced that utter clarity which the epileptic, it is said, is given to know. In that moment I lost completely the illusion of time and space: the world unfurled its drama simultaneously along a meridian which had no axis… For some reason or another man looks for the miracle, and to accomplish it he will wade through blood. He will debauch himself with ideas, he will reduce himself to a shadow if for only a second of his life he can close his eyes to the hideousness of reality.”
No longer do I want to write things that will appeal to the masses, that abide by the rules of social politics. No longer will I fear negative criticism. No longer will I write by the rules. Nothing is more pure than the idea of observation into inspiration into transcription into migration and finally again into observation and inspiration. The best part is that it doesn’t matter if things change along this path. It doesn’t matter if I misinterpret Henry Miller, just as long as the end product is the same: Inspiration. So I will welcome Dr. Shea’s advice and continue to write… even if I don’t have anything to say to anyone but myself.