Monday, February 4, 2013

Traveling people

When my friend and I went to Blue Gill for breakfast two Sundays ago, we were discussing tourism and travelling and I came to realize that stories are essential for a meaningful experience when “on the road.”  Not the stories we tell after the experience, but the personal stories that make the sight or object meaningful and interesting.  I mentioned how when I lived in Cyprus for a summer (back in 2007), I would walk around the capital city Nicosia and not find much enjoyment from the buildings and the streets.  Of course, I thought about the architecture and I wasn’t totally bored.  But it was when I chatted with locals and heard their stories and about their experiences with particular establishments or landmarks that I felt a connection.  When people travel, I think they want to feel a connection.  To others.  To places. To objects.  Or at least that’s how I travel. And I don’t necessarily want the idea of calling myself a “cultured” or “worldly” person.  In Universal Experience, Carol Becker mentions how tourism and travel evokes the sense of feeling cultured or worldly.  To say “I’ve been here” or “I’ve done this.”  I’m interested in what stories people have, as well as how those stories have constructed their mindset and paradigms.  Part of this connects to why I teach.  I’m interested in how students think and why they think the way they think.  Information is meaningless, or at least uninspiring for me. Knowledge, often created from the stories we tell and the experiences we have, is much more interesting.

And the connection I yearn for when I travel, whether from my apartment to campus or from the states to a different country (or another city or state), is typically found in the traveling (and not the destination).  I enjoyed in UE the section on pilgrimages.  Yes, the process, the traveling is where the most value resides.  The destination holds meaning, but the journey to the destination is where things happen.  I love road trips, both solo and partnered. No destination or destination, road trips give me time and space to think.  When partnered, I can think and converse, typically on a wide range of ideas (of course, depending on who is traveling with me).

After reading Wim Wenders’ Once, I noticed how nearly all his travel stories and photos involved people.  Rarely was a story or photo simply about a landscape of nature. Part of our project, or at least what I want to develop, is an emblem that connects to people and the affective text.  If I work off my Decartes experience, my teacher at the time ― Dr. Sandra Desjardins  ― would be the person that connected me to that text. But back in 2004, I didn’t have a camera nor a phone, so I don’t have any pictures of her or of something that could explicitly connect an image to her, the text and the moment.  I did google her and found this video.

Last Saturday,
I was sitting on the back porch 
with my friend (who I was at Blue Gill with). 
We talked for awhile, primarily about death
and dying and suicide and success
and living in the world amongst others.
I felt relaxed as I listened to her
 and explained my approach to dying.
 I told her I’m not really afraid of dying. 
I mentioned that I don’t fear dying 
(or at least that’s what I tell myself.  
Maybe in a dire situation, I would fight to survive). 
I said if the apocalypse were to happen right now,
I would just sit and watch. 
I wouldn’t try to play hero survivor,
like so many TV shows and movies suggest
(and it seems like a lot of people
 make those fantasies for themselves). 

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