“We travel, initially, to lose ourselves; and we travel, next, to find ourselves. We travel to open our hearts and eyes and learn more about the world than our newspapers will accommodate.”
– Pico Iyer, British-born essayist and novelist.
Greetings from the Gulf! I’m down near the Florida-Alabama (USA) border, spending time with family and keeping costs down as I work on a couple projects (more on this below).
This is a quick, impromptu post. I had no intention of sending something today. But after reading an incredible essay, an ode to travel of sorts, an air of inspiration and awe and wanderlust engulfed me, and stirred within me an urge to share it.
Before I do, here are a few things I’ve been up to:
1. Publishing a book: Tales of Iceland (or “Running with the Huldufolk in the Permanent Daylight“).
I may have mentioned this in passing, but I’m working with my friend Stephen Markley to publish and promote his forthcoming book about our travels through Iceland, called Tales of Iceland. It’s a fast, fun, hilarious, yet educational true tale about our trip to Iceland. Through engaging storytelling (which includes many of our terribly inappropriate conversations and situations), it indirectly teaches about Iceland, its people, and the wonderful nuances of the culture. We’re coining the genre “Conscious Travel.” It’s the book we wish existed before our trip to Iceland, and it’s developing into our call to action for everyone to visit this strange, magical, and beautiful place. Steve is a fantastic writer, and if you enjoyed his RedEye blog posts while we traveled Iceland, you will love the story.
After many months, this book is finally becoming a real, tangible thing. The cover design is almost complete and the manuscript is ready for its final copy edit. Since this is a new frontier for me, I’m inhaling books, blogs, and news on the publishing industry and self-publishing craft. I’m learning all I can about Amazon’s discoverability engines, how to engage with our target audience, and brainstorming ideas to make the book spread.
One such idea is to create a launch team — a team of people who can and want to help spread the word about the book. This may include things like sharing the book with social networks, writing a review on Amazon and/or Goodreads, or helping brainstorm promotional ideas. In exchange, we would send a complimentary advance copy of the book, in addition to some other goodies as we go down this path.
Also, as GiveLiveExplore’s entry into the publishing and literary industry, being a part of the launch team would be an opportunity to participate in an entrepreneurial endeavor, as well as pioneering a community of Iceland-lovers and a movement to promote conscious travel. I’m still formulating the launch team concept, but wanted to throw some feelers out there to gauge interest.
If you would like to be a part of the Tales of Iceland launch team, please respond to this email, or shoot me a note at Matt@GiveLiveExplore.com.
2. Writing a book.
I’m hesitant to state it so simply, because this act of writing a book has zero resemblance to my fantastical imaginings of what book writing should look like.
I’ve started dictating stories from my trip, but not without frustration, doubt, and a whole lot of resistance. Technically, I may be able to write, but I’m terribly inefficient at it. Those blog posts that casually dropped into your inbox every week while I traveled were the tiring result of unsexy hours upon hours of toil and frustration. Writing an extensive story to encompass the tales from those posts, plus the intimate details in between, is proving to be an exhaustive task.
I’m trying to designate one or two hours each day where I physically sit my ass down and focus only on writing about my trip. It’s tough. I now understand Edison’s adage “Genius is one percent inspiration and ninety-nine per cent perspiration.” I think what differentiates writers, artists, and other creatives from the rest of us mere mortals is dedication and discipline. These are the gatekeepers to works of genius. They stand guard between us and those beautiful creations marinating in our brains. Conquer them at your own peril.
3. Educating myself.
In addition to gobbling up books about books, I’m taking advantage of the best free education the Internet has to offer. These include free courses from top US institutions like Stanford and University of Virginia’s Darden School of Business, but also some education startups like CreativeLIVE. I plan to write an exhaustive post on the best education $0 can buy in our Internet-enabled connection economy.
Without further ado, let’s get on with our collective wanderlusting.
Why We Travel
My trip through Europe, which at this point feels so dream-like I need to look at pictures just to remind myself it actually happened, molded and changed me in ways impossible to fully articulate. Today, I came across an incredible essay by Pico Iyer entitled Why We Travel. If ever I were able to articulate my love affair with travel, the result would be similar to this.
If you’re feeling especially wanderlusty today, have a look. I can’t guarantee it will cure your want for travel, but it may help you reconcile why this want exists, and why it’s a crying shame to ignore or quiet it. And if you have yet to discover that want for travel, just know that it takes only one soulful wandering to wake the beast within.
We travel, initially, to lose ourselves; and we travel, next, to find ourselves. We travel to open our hearts and eyes and learn more about the world than our newspapers will accommodate. We travel to bring what little we can, in our ignorance and knowledge, to those parts of the globe whose riches are differently dispersed. And we travel, in essence, to become young fools again—to slow time down and get taken in, and fall in love once more. The beauty of this whole process was best described, perhaps, before people even took to frequent flying, by George Santayana in his lapidary essay, “The Philosophy of Travel.” We “need sometimes,” the Harvard philosopher wrote, “to escape into open solitudes, into aimlessness, into the moral holiday of running some pure hazard, in order to sharpen the edge of life, to taste hardship, and to be compelled to work desperately for a moment at no matter what.” I like that stress on work, since never more than on the road are we shown how proportional our blessings are to the difficulty that precedes them; and I like the stress on a holiday that’s “moral” since we fall into our ethical habits as easily as into our beds at night. Few of us ever forget the connection between “travel” and “travail,” and I know that I travel in large part in search of hardship—both my own, which I want to feel, and others’, which I need to see. Travel in that sense guides us toward a better balance of wisdom and compassion—of seeing the world clearly, and yet feeling it truly. For seeing without feeling can obviously be uncaring; while feeling without seeing can be blind.
Iyer goes on…
We travel, then, in search of both self and anonymity—and, of course, in finding the one we apprehend the other. Abroad, we are wonderfully free of caste and job and standing; we are, as Hazlitt puts it, just the “gentlemen in the parlour,” and people cannot put a name or tag to us. And precisely because we are clarified in this way, and freed of inessential labels, we have the opportunity to come into contact with more essential parts of ourselves (which may begin to explain why we may feel most alive when far from home). Abroad is the place where we stay up late, follow impulse and find ourselves as wide open as when we are in love. We live without a past or future, for a moment at least, and are ourselves up for grabs and open to interpretation. We even may become mysterious—to others, at first, and sometimes to ourselves—and, as no less a dignitary than Oliver Cromwell once noted, “A man never goes so far as when he doesn’t know where he is going.”
To read onward, I encourage you to check out his entire essay at WordHum: Why We Travel by Pico Iyer.
What are your favorite odes to travel? Share below in the comments or email me.