“For my part, I travel not to go anywhere, but to go. I travel for travel’s sake. The great affair is to move.” – Robert Louis Stevenson
I’m sure that most who still follow these posts and the few that randomly stumble upon them are at least semi-aware of what I’m doing. Or what I’ve done. But perhaps none of you know exactly why?
Week after week I type up a recollection of the happenings of the previous 7 days (sometimes 8 or 9) and post that summarized version of my life online. Not really sure why or who would be interested, and honestly, not particularly caring either way. This blog is my journal. A place where I can eternalize (as long as I pay for my website) my travels and someday, maybe even tell an interesting story. This week, I have absolutely zero desire to simply… regurgitate what I’ve experienced. In my mind, that’s a rather stale and boring format and one that I’ve been anxious to stray in the opposite direction of for some time. No, this week will be a bit different. I want to explain some thoughts that I’ve had lately in conjunction with what I’ve experienced. If what I’ve said thus far doesn’t flip a switch in your brain, I urge you to keep reading. We all have an innate response to adventure and wanting to delve deeper into our subconscious. This blog is my platform to do just that. My words tell my thoughts and try to describe my story. My drawings and photos show you a glimpse into what I see. The aim of this is to allow those of you who can’t travel (or just have yet to) a portal of sorts. Or maybe a looking glass is closer to what I’m aiming for? Anyways, a view of everything that the world has to offer. And for those who have already traveled, I hope that my stories have and will continue to initiate a déjà vu-like experience. A way for you to reach deep into your mind and revisit old memories. At least, that’s my aim.
Getting right to business: In today’s world, we’re bombarded by social media. Older physical formats such as magazines, newspapers, and billboards are ever-present. Advertisements on various internet sites (many of which are personalized to us specifically through what we look at and search for) are constantly in your face as well as on the radio, television shows, and even podcasts. Not to forget Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and every other platform for spreading ideas globally. As individualized as we aim to be, our minds are treated like meat grinders with these broad, gross ideas shoved into them like chunks of flesh being made into hamburger. Where I’m going with this is honestly fairly simple. You and I and the person half-way across the world all think that we’re so very different when in reality, we’re only rearranging the same influences into a different order. We see the same things, use the same devices and sites, wear the same clothes, and hear the same (with only slight variations in the form of bias) news. As different as everyone strives to be, your ideas are all still hamburger from the same cow. So please, take a moment to stop and think.
A Conversation of Similars
Why was this on my mind this past week? Did I just read too many posts on Facebook? Watch some YouTube video that I’m now recycling and claiming the thought as my own? Read an article somewhere? Nah, none of the above. I often sit on these thoughts for some time and anyone who knows me personally knows that I occasionally share these thoughts (verbally or typed out). There wasn’t one singular event that led to this, though, if that’s what you’re looking for… Nonetheless, I’ll try my best to give a peek into how I got to this point.
In the States, our society is divided into… cliques? A rather juvenile term as it brings up only thoughts of school, but in the end, we’re all just big children putting on our big boy and big girl faces so that everyone else thinks that we know what we’re doing and why. In reality, we’re all the same kids that we were on the first day of kindergarten with hopes that the other children will like us. Anyways, back to the point. Cliques. You have the people in the larger cities thinking that they’re far more educated and sophisticated while largely lacking in common sense. You have those who live in the country and are rather secluded from both outside cultures and concepts. And then each of these is divided further. The hipsters and “free thinkers” who want to be different and claim to have an open mind, while openly shutting down thoughts that they think are wrong with little regard to why others may have those thoughts in the first place. The intelligent people with great ideas, but no social skills so their grandiose solutions to the world’s problems will ultimately go to waste. The simple people who just want to go about their lives without many possessions or cares about the outside world. The worker who feels disconnected with the government and anyone who is wealthy. The wealthy that claims to have the solutions to everything, but lacks the understanding of how those unlike them think and/or why. And many, many others. The point that I’m trying to make is that everyone wants to think that they’re right. I myself often fall into this mindset. The problem is that when we only think about our current personal situation and relation to the problems happening around US, we tend to skip over what others are experiencing and if what is best for us is the same for THEM.
An example of this was a conversation that I had earlier this week with a couple of other volunteers. They are both from different countries and yet they share very similar personalities and habits. This, to them, was/is amazing and as a result, they have mainly stayed with each other the majority of the time that they’ve been in Belgrade. Similar to children on the first day of school. The problem with this is that they’re in a city FULL of people with different thoughts and in my mind, the whole point of traveling is to talk with people who are DIFFERENT from yourself. Consciously avoid people like you (though not always, as similar can be good/relaxing), go out, and converse. Pick the minds of everyone. Broaden your own ways of thinking rather than just looking at the world as an outsider.
This Past Week
I realize that this post is quite a bit longer than some (okay, most) of my past posts, but I felt the need to delve deeper. Maybe I’ll make this a separate blog? Choices, choices… Eh, if I decide on it, I’ll change it later. For now, the show must go on!
This past week, I spent the first few days working on a freelance job illustrating farm scenes/animals. It was seemingly endless as there was always something that needed revising. But as it is a stepping stone into the world that I would like to call my profession, I persevered. I’m rather impatient, so working with a client that communicated differently than myself was a good challenge and way to develop further as a human being. I won’t go into much more detail as I really can’t and I can’t show you any of the work that I did as I don’t own the images. So why bring it up at all? Well… because I almost broke my freaking stylus that I use to do digital drawings. As in, I basically did. I put too much pressure on the tip of it and the protective plastic outer casing cracked and left it vulnerable and virtually unusable. The issue? Neither Serbia (nor any surrounding countries) carries my computer or any accessories and shipping the $50 stylus from the States meant that I would be spending $64 in shipping/import fees. Plus, the hostel had a large group coming in and I wouldn’t have a room. So, I took advantage of the situation, rented a car for a couple of days, and drove to Graz, Austria.
At roughly 1,300 km (~800 miles, give or take), I got to spend some time thinking and sightseeing. It was refreshing as most of what I saw were places that I hadn’t yet been to. From Belgrade, Serbia through Croatia into Slovenia and finally, Austria, the landscapes changed somewhat drastically from planar fields to large hills and mountains. I had to hurry as I left at around 2 pm and the drive would take around 6-7 hours. Well, that and I wanted to find/be at the store first thing in the morning so I could spend the rest of the day driving. Upon arriving in Graz at around 9 pm, I spent an hour driving around the city scoping out wi-fi hotspots, sights, and where the stores that could potentially carry the stylus were located. Then, I stopped at a McDonalds to utilize their parking lot/wi-fi (I stayed for around an hour). Finally, I found out that Graz has “blue” and “green” parking zones and that on Saturdays, the green ones were free to park throughout the entire day. I realize that this may not sound like much, but when I travel, I travel with minimal expenses in mind. That means no lodging if I have a car, no restaurants if I can find some essential foods, and little to no packing aside from camera gear and a pair of jeans and a sweatshirt.
Anyways, at roughly 10 pm, I found a “green zone” parking spot, ate some food, and set up the cargo/trunk area of my 2016 VW Golf TDI hatchback as a makeshift bed. It was a bit cramped, but seeing as it was below freezing outside and there were street lights/passerby-ers, I needed a place that would provide some insulation while keeping the light out. My solution was to wedge a sock into the rear seat’s latch mechanism so that I could pull the seat back once in the trunk without locking myself in (it worked like charm). There were downsides, however. First, I was rushed upon departure so I didn’t pack a blanket or pillow. Just a sweatshirt and extra t-shirt (not very pillow-ish). Meaning? I was a bit cold and pretty uncomfortable. Also, I’m a bit too tall to be wedged into the trunk, so I had to open one side of the rear seat and poke my legs out every few hours before closing it again to conserve heat. On the bright side, the cargo area’s cover kept all of the light out and the car is rather well insulated, so the sound wasn’t a problem. Plus, I didn’t have to pay for a place to stay.
After stopping at a few places, I found my stylus and headed back towards Serbia (with only a slight and intentional detour). Unlike my route towards Austria, I elected to avoid all toll roads and drive through as many small villages/towns as possible. Slovenia was nothing short of AMAZING as was the sunset in Bosnia. I’ll post photos of this past week (even things unmentioned here) below.
As for now, that’s all. I may add to this later, but I think 1,900 words is more than many want to/have time to read.