Looking Back (and Traveling)

International Travel, Music

There is a lyric by Steven Wilson that’s been on my mind a lot lately: “Strange how you never become / The person you see when you’re young.” As I creep further into my fourth decade, I suppose it’s not unexpected to find myself looking back. When I was younger, my passion was writing. I was not only going to be a writer, but a great writer. I wanted to rival William Faulkner, with Cormac McCarthy revealing that great writing could still exist in this digital age. While an undergraduate, I drafted out two novels and a short story collection. Stories and poems of mine started appearing in small journals and anthologies.

In grad school, I shifted to mostly writing poetry, as poems can be quicker to draft than a story or novel. A decade later my first poetry collection was published, with my second and third following a few years later. I have a fourth collection in draft form and a fifth researched but never written. Only thing is, I rarely write any more and can’t imagine finishing any of these unfinished collections. I’ve become an academic and a scholar, the demon-driven writer in me driven down. Or maybe the demon has just changed focus from writing to traveling.

One thing that drives my traveling is time—I want to see as much as I can in the time I have. This is founded somewhat in experience. I never expected to lose both of my parents before I turned forty and have this nagging little voice that likes to remind me now and again that the men in my family tend to not make it far past sixty, if they make it to sixty at all. It’s not a contest or a race; I just try not to pass up an opportunity to see something I haven’t seen before (or find something new in a familiar land).

So this finds me getting ready to depart on another expedition—seven countries in ten weeks. Every time I embark on a longer trip, I tell myself it will be the last—I’m getting too old for it and would prefer shorter outings. Yet, there’s another little nagging voice reminding me that life’s short and unpredictable in many ways. Besides, the person you become may be more interesting than the one you imagine when you’re young.

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Posted in response to: http://dailypost.wordpress.com/2014/03/10/weekly-writing-challenge-golden-years/

Travels Through a Song

Music

bklp_09We all travel for different reasons and some of us have different goals. I for one would like to set foot on all seven continents and, generally, see as much as I can. Fifty countries is the number I’m currently approaching, though I would have no problem seeing another fifty. While I’m mostly drawn to locales off the beaten path, I can also be found in areas dripping with day-trippers.

During these travels, I have had a song playing in my head, which I first heard long before I ever started traveling. Released in 1976, 2112 was Rush’s defining moment. Instead of bowing to record company pressures to release more radio friendly fare, they released an album that opens with a twenty-minute, dystopian title track. Neil Peart, drummer and lyricist, wanted the songs that followed to be more light-hearted, beginning with “A Passage to Bangkok,” a tongue-in-cheek reference to drug use in the 1970s.

Beyond this, it’s a song filled with exotic locals. In order, we have Bogota, Jamaica, Acapulco, Morocco, Bangkok, Lebanon, Afghanistan, and Kathmandu. Along with being a soundtrack, this song has also become an indirect goal. I’ve now been to Morocco, Bangkok, Kathmandu, and soon Bogota. I’d love to go to either Jamaica or Lebanon, though admittedly I’m in no hurry to see Acapulco. Afghanistan probably won’t happen in this lifetime, though not for lack of interest. There are some areas I may never get to see due to unrest and my American passport, but that won’t stop the desire. Or the air guitar.