Wabash

Attending my first opening night via the interwebs

Attending my first opening night via the interwebs

Thought it wasn't my first choice to attend virtually, it was my only realistic option, as I was deeply embedded in school on May 1st, the day of the event. But this was a big moment for me, a first exhibition for an art major and with deep significance in location at that. I wanted to be able to absorb these factors viscerally and emerge from the experience enriched and with the sense that I had exhibited work always meant for others' eyes.

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Help me prepare for my first travel photography exhibition

Help me prepare for my first travel photography exhibition

This exhibition entitled "Far, Far Away" is a chance for some people in Wabash, Indiana to see destinations and cultures they otherwise might never see. Additionally, all the images were taken by people who claim Wabash as their hometown, adding a layer of accessibility to the images. The other person sharing the space with me will be showing many images from Antarctica. Just amongst the two of us, our images will span all seven continents!

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The Art of Reinvention, Anonymity, and Self-Discovery in Travel

The sky of Indiana

The sky of Indiana

My mind finally smells summer. I've been away from Indiana for the past two summers and away from Wabash during the summertime since I moved away ten years ago. Having spent the majority of my childhood outside, I've been unknowingly pining for the familiar olfactory triggers, which I still can't define well: aromatic greens of unknown classification, warming as though being slowly cooked, lawn mower engine fuel, chlorine and very cold water, heat radiating from the cement below my bicycle tires, sometimes fresh asphalt but most often cracked sidewalks and gravel-sprinkled roads.

Though some of these seem like multi-sensory experiences - not to mention fairly common around the world - I'm really only talking about my nose. I can smell all those things. The same summer climate can be found on about 60% of the Earth's land mass at some point in the year, but it is only in this town that the sun seems to electrify the atoms and molecules in such a way - for me.

Bias steals my reason when I believe this town could actually be that much different than the rest of the world. Everyone most likely has a sweet spot for their birthplaces, maybe less sweet than bitter for some, and memories are fantastically linked to senses and, in my case, inspiration.

Nostalgia Triggers

I'm not a weird uber-fan of sweeping my grandmother's back porch, but doing so the other day washed warming nostalgia overhead and allowed me to tap into the feelings I once had as a youngster, feelings I remember viscerally that I can now decode and translate with this older mind.

It's an exciting town!

It's an exciting town!

It was in the public library downtown that I grew to love plowing through books. Though my reading comprehension these days is borderline frightening, the visuals I concocted for the stories of Roald Dahl are still sharp in my mind. The movies were all sad efforts after my daily mental capades through Matilda's home and Charlie's new factory.

It was a means of wasting time while my parents worked at the office, but I used to pluck away at a typewriter and create five sentence short stories about personified animals with morals and cool names. Taylor Swan was my ideal girl name, now a nausea inducer. I still have these hilarious attempts at literature in a folder somewhere, along with the memory that I dreamt of being the youngest published author in the world. I had no burning story to tell, but the thought of purging my thoughts to achieve such a landmark was satisfying for my eight year-old self.

Cue to me, ten years later, finally figuring out I did have stories to tell.

The Reappearing Interest

And I have to admit that while living in Wabash I was, at best, ambivalent about being here, even though my daily outdoor activities were fascinating and my friends quirky and long-lasting.

We moved cities with the intent of snatching those opportunities from which I'd be out of reach in the rural north. In turn, I believe my senses were dulled, though they did become my flypaper for artistic inspiration later in life.

My grandma used to say, "All roads lead to Wabash" - her version of the Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon. I sometimes find my path back "home" completely mind-boggling, which looks something like Indianapolis - Italy - Misc. USA - RTW Cruise Journey - Europe - Africa - Asia - Indianapolis - South Pacific - Asia, again…and so on until all trips are accounted for, with the caboose being good ol' Wabash County.

As far from "as the crow flies" as you can make a round-trip, I'd say…unless that crow is very drunk. And never a plausible concept when the bubble of the small town seemed to draw impermeable borders.

Wabash friends

Wabash friends

And now I'm peddling through town on sidewalks that haven't been updated since my mom was with bun in oven. The people who see me cycling seem to know me, and I don't remember names, only encounters at fairs, churchs, and community theater performances. There are no strangers. Cliche, schmeeche - I'm having serious déjà vu.

Reinvention

Fresh from a recent trip that reminded me how much I love the clean slates and stranger-filled surroundings of travel, I'm feeling stumped.

Where are the lingering conversations I can't comprehend? Where are the strangers, and why do I want them around?

The ensemble of the town rarely seems to change, and so stays static my relationships with everyone. Feelings remain regardless of time, which seems to affect bodies rather than minds. There's little flexibility available for reinvention, as history is chiseled in stone. Aging doesn't guarantee anything.

My brother's advice upon starting my new school in Indianapolis was simple, and it stuck.

No one knows you here. You can reinvent yourself, if you want.

That sounds like a movie line. Maybe I'm getting confused. Disregard the wording and assume the same sentiment was relayed to me ten years ago upon the first days of my new schooling experience.

My parents after a wine tasting

My parents after a wine tasting

With a move [I couldn't conceptualize] an hour and a half south of childhood, reinvention became possible. And even though I've never felt unlike myself in a true, lingering sense, I did seize the opportunity to portray myself in a different light. Mannerisms, humor, interests - they all stayed, but I altered my air to put up with less than I used to allow. No longer did I slink away from moments of embarrassment or shame from the likes of the neighbor boys or the burly girls of bully stock. I didn't want to feel self-conscious about being the person I wanted to be, nor did I have the desire to exhibit any characteristic not indigenous to my being. Hence, no fake-itude.

And now I return, having flexed as a personality but not having evolved alongside Wabash. I wonder if I'm recognizable. Even though this renewed interest has brought me back in touch with the town of 11,000 of my upbringing, I'm unsure as to whether I see myself or a different person in the reflection of my memories.

Walking above Charley Creek, I wonder if it's purely time that strips me of my visceral connection or the fact that the person is not the same (just plus ten years).

When Does a Person Become?

When have I been most happy in my life? Would memories of the most fulfilling or satisfying moments be those which define my life's interests or purpose? Are we who we were coming from the womb and then slowly compromised as we evolved into civilization? Are we really who we are after a life-changing experience or a test that morphs us into a person we never thought we'd become? Was I more me in the 80s, playing in my backyard treehouse, or now - now that I ask these questions and still come out of the wringer being the way that I presently am?

These are the sort of questions that arise amidst the dormant and knowing air particles of my grandmother's house. Surrounding by the grooviest domicile on the block, I question the point I've reached in my being and wonder if the same mushroom cap hairstyle who used to watch TV in the nook on the left is still present and solid.

My Wabash abode

My Wabash abode

Being alone (with cat) in a house that holds my history, in a town that crafted my humor and habits, in a state that isolated my focus on personalities, I am grappling with concepts to identify what place and time have to say about my being. What person would I have become had I not moved? And if that hour and a half move was all I attempted, what person would I then be had travel been stripped from my pastimes?

When home seems to nurture a specific development of the self, how does travel - with its anonymity, chance for reinvention, trying challenges to the first installation of values - affect the development of our purest form?

Post-world travels, I tend to side with the tried-and-tested theory of being; being put through the wringer, slapped around, and pushed to a near breaking point will result in a person, fibers and nothing else. But are these challenges distractions from the primary meditation that would facilitate that pure knowledge? The answer to that question would restructure the entirety of our social make-up.

What Do You Think?

This is a post I've been writing since the commencement of my summer seclusion project and seemingly one of the main products I hoped to reap from the experience. I write for an unknown public audience, and in doing so, I'm inviting the collective "you" to think what you want. While this post could seem like a journal entry or simply a moment of deep, personal musing, I want these concepts to be chewed on by all. I don't write these ideas to be an exhibitionist but to stimulate a discussion on the art of travel.

Please leave your feedback on whatever was of interest to you. If you'd rather have your comment invisible to the public eye, leave a message on my contact form. Video comments are extremely encouraged.

Thanks for reading.

Consume & Update: Balance, Success, and Last Week

Today's documentation of the travel and blogging world is a little slim but can plunge you into a lotta deep thought.

The Four Burners and Success

Balance Your Life...or else

Balance Your Life...or else

Who really has a balanced life? I'd like to think that overall the way I conduct myself on a year-long basis levels out between travel and home, physicality and leisure, hermitville and social junction. As I've stated before, the concept of "live every day like it's your last" is, in my opinion, a bunch of hullabaloo. How are we supposed to make today a most brilliant day while also strive for completeness in all aspects of our life? That's a whole lotta pressure for one day. I'd have to spend all day today planning for an amazing tomorrow, which would defeat the point, right?

I chew on this thought today because Chris Guilleabeau brought up an interesting idea mused by David Sedaris:

One burner represents your family, one is your friends, the third is your health, and the fourth is your work. -David Sedaris

The gist is that in order to be successful you have to cut off one of your burners. And in order to be really successful you have to cut off two.

Especially in a country where we like to think we can "have it all" and also one where we define success as an outward appearance of money, power, and respect, this idea seems to be true for most Americans; not sure about the rest of the world, but I assume the same goes for most of them as well. We don't want to read this quote and consider its validity, because that means accepting imbalance and relative failure at one facet of our lives, of which we'd normally be prideful.

What do you think about this concept? Do you think the idea of the four burners is irrelevant or spot on? What's your stance on the balance of focus and pride in your life? Do you think one or two must slip to achieve some level of success? And what is success in your terms? I'd love to hear your feedback, so please comment below!

Other Discoveries

Problogger sets us straight on some typical blogger grammatical mistakes. Hate to lose my hold on proper English!

What do you think is necessary in redesigning your lifestyle to incorporate your passions and happiness? Did this guy get it right?

Do you think your travel experiences have had a direct impact on your political affiliations or sidings?

Update from Nomadderwhere

Photo on 2010-07-18 at 16.20

Photo on 2010-07-18 at 16.20

Delicious culinary concoctions, kooky Midwestern weather, biking through town and heat advisories, cinematic adventures and writing deep thoughts; this was my week. In some minute ways, the world seemed to stand on its head for me this week. I watched one Shakespearean themed movie...and finally understood them. My cat, whom is far from a lap pet, sought comfort in my bosom during an overhead thunderstorm. Wow, that was all that really stood on its head. My life this month isn't all that exciting! I guess that's what happens when you dumb your life down to a few elements and hope they function at their peak: cooking, writing, and summoning creative energy.

This week, I upped my game and pumped out a slew of content. Applaud me, why don'tcha?

I only have one more week of exploring the town of 11,000 of my upbringing, and I plan on soaking up the solitude with every molecule of my being. I visit daily locations I haven't experienced since my middle school days and am beginning to wonder if my quarter-life crisis is approaching early with an emphasis on the past rather than a fear for my future. Eh, I know I'm going to be alright. But am I the same person I was when I was four? These are the thoughts of this pickled mind...

And in case you like helping me out: I'm doing a little research on South Korea and Taiwan this week and would love some expert help on where to go and what to see, along with important facets of both cultures and histories!

Video of the Week: The Challenge Edition (Webcam)

Traveling creates a lifestyle of constant challenges, which then facilitate self-discovery and, in turn, happiness. This week, I report from my post alone in northern Indiana to ask you: how would you challenge yourself with a home experiment that would simulate the effects of travel?

Notes from this week's Video of the Week:

  • I continue to get back to the basics by concentrating on a few key things: cooking, physical activity, and expression.

  • Challenge for you: What would your month-long self-discovery experiment be?

Video of the Week: Seclusion Musings (Webcam)

My Wabash abode

After one successful week of relative seclusion in northern Indiana, I've got some thoughts to share - musings, if you will. Your feedback is strongly encouraged.

Notes from this week's video:

  • Musing #1: Reinvention

    • Have you ever become a person you don't recognize?

    • Do you take advantage of the easy opportunity for reinvention when traveling?

  • Musing #2: Anonymity

    • How does your anonymous presence on the road affect your attitude, behavior, mind, etc.?

    • Have you experienced the overfamiliarity of the small town or close-knit region? How does this change your state of mind or activity?

  • Musing #3: Constant Travel

    • Is re-experiencing your own town/city as valuable a teaching opportunity as perusing a new place in another country?

    • If home travel is considered "travel," where is the line drawn between travel and not? What differentiates the two?

Video of the Week: Summer Seclusion Project (Webcam)

Haven't seen one of these in a while, huh? A video of the week or a webcam special. I finally got my act together! Enjoy.

Notes from this week's video:

  • ProjectExplorer.org is in post-production stateside after a fantastic filming session in Mexico.

  • I'm moving out of my parent's house for a month for some seclusion in my hometown.

  • I have four goals for the month of July.

  • Crank out stellar videos, images, and work for ProjectExplorer.org

  • Write personal travel narratives in hopes of publishing or at least having them for myself.

  • Learn how to cook basic vegetarian meals well. I don't know how veggies are supposed to taste. Sad.

  • Enjoy my hometown for the first summer in a decade and reap the benefits of relative seclusion from distraction.

  • It's time to reformat/redesign Nomadderwhere, just like I did last September. A lot has changed in my life and path, and my website needs to reflect that.

Day 76 and I'm Moved Yet Again

Yunnan 188
Alexis Reller on Great Wall of China during Semester at Sea, thinking

I am sitting on a ribbon that tops the craggy mountaintops of North China, the distant laughter of tourists are drowned out by the rustling dry leaves around me and even though I am breaking a serious law in a Communist country. My means are justified by an ending sense of satisfaction from one of the most visited sites in the world. My left leg dangles over a drop that would surely cement a lasting impression of the Wall's stature, and my neck seeks shelter in the shell of my coat. The zigzagging mountains ahead look nearly impossible to climb, but somehow thousands of years ago, a man thought it wise to add twenty more feet of troubles for intruders. It is snowing upwards with white bud tree petals, and I can gather the faintest scent of their aroma.

As if we don't time travel enough on this globe-trotting adventure, I jump yet again (backwards this time) to moments near Charley Creek when the air was changing and the bare trees led my imagination to reveal its potential. The true magic of the Great Wall is not in its breadth and magnitude, but it is in the crumbles, where these once natural materials attempt to return to Earth and give in to the wind.

I, in my man-made coat, sit sheltered and sniffling from the weather that chills and astounds me. I, too, will one day crumble, hopefully after being something grand, and return my natural essence to the world that provided me the chance. I am one of few who can sit where I am, but this sensation can be acquired within a foot's step from a front door or a sidewalk. This nature is the same everywhere, but it is the man that transforms the land that looks on.

Just as the gutters jut out from the vertical surface, so does my left foot, now asleep from neglect. The mountains echo back every noise from the city below, as if to say "that car horn was annoying…here, you listen and tell me it's not." How long would it take to sit here and feel uninspired, to do something great, to live outdoors, to sense the world, to feel like a part of the human race. I guess that would be until the next tourist walks by and ruins your moment in history.