I am a vagabond; that much is clear to me. But I am also drawn to building creative and meaningful community at home. This makes me feel torn on a near constant basis and the process of fuzing these two realities together seems to be more alchemy than a hard science. At least I have yet to discover the secret. It seems that the life of a vagabond is lonely and isolated from stability, while filled with adventure and personal growth; while life in community is repetitive and predictable, but gives the opportunity to know others and a place intimately. Now these two realities are not necessarily mutually exclusive, or even reflective of what I describe above, but for me it feels this way. And of course while traveling I dream of my life at home and while at home I can’t stop thinking of getting back into the unknown.
This time around I made it just over a month in Portland before the itch set in. An itch that I couldn’t scratch without buying a plane ticket. After returning from Korea and Japan this past May I was excited about being home for some time, putting in my garden, maybe further developing my romantic relationship and hopefully finding a job. I figured I could at least go for another year before needing to travel again. But, the good feeling of being home only lasted about a month. The vibrant green of spring in the Pacific Northwest began to fade, my garden went untended, my relationship spoiled and only rejection letters from potential employers found their way to my inbox. My new dream of living a full and exciting life while remaining still dissolved…
…Now to be fair, I probably didn’t give things enough time. I expected stability while demanding excitement. I didn’t allow things to flourish from a place of newness, but allowed them to stagnate though a place of the familiar. Instead of holding tight and allowing for a new chapter to emerge, I chose to escape. It’s what I do best. So, I decided that I would spend 6 weeks in Spain in order to walk the Camino de Santiago, something I have wanted to do for years. I figured this would buy me some more time to try my hand once again at growing roots when I return.
While I desire some of what stability offers and often find myself attracted to staying put, the feeling never lasts. Some people find the idea of traveling frightening, but exciting; I feel that way about being stable and in one place. But, just like people who are afraid to travel and would benefit from facing their fears, I should probably face my fear of staying still for a time in order to gain the lessons of that experience. So now I intend to try again when I return from this trip. Although I wouldn’t be surprised if in the end it turns out that I am destined to be a wandering vagabond and will have to find my desire for community and stability in other ways.
But, I am excited to embark on this next adventure in search of clarity and to have the opportunity to do more travel photography in a part of the world I have never been. Who knows if I will find any answers on my journey, but I know it will help fulfill my wanderlust while giving me time to contemplate my next steps at home.
I leave August 2nd, so stay tuned for photos and stories from the road!
Here are some of my photos from the 4th of July in Portland, Oregon. I was hoping to show a different side of the 4th, maybe a more mundane, real life version of what that day is for so many people…just another day, with some fireworks in the distance. Not to say that it’s not a meaningful day for many people, but it has turned into a spectacle of opulence and over-indulgence. For many of us, watching firework displays that cost hundreds of thousands of dollars is a slap in the face while our communities are being gutted of funding and resources, our friends are unemployed and the future looks bleak.
I love where I live as it is incredibly beautiful and I am surrounded by amazing people, but I also believe our country has lost its way and I’m not sure how much I feel like putting on a show of celebration while all around me the walls of our society are crumbling.
In many ways these fireworks reminded me of growth; you can’t grow forever, if you do you will explode. Maybe that is a better metaphor for our 4th of July celebrations. A reminder to ourselves that we are on a quick path to being nothing more than smoke in the aftermath of a large explosion. Maybe a brilliant one, but one that will leave us in ashes. We can’t grow forever and living in a world where our economic systems are based entirely on growth will lead to nothing but future misery.
But, let’s take a moment to imagine another world. A world where sharing, caring and the protection of our planet is more important than gaining wealth and exploiting resources for personal (and corporate) gain. I hope to someday live in a world where I feel excited to celebrate the accomplishments and successes of my country, but for now I will work to help it not explode and hopefully be able to offer a few better ideas for how to live along the way.