When I first began this blog I made some promises. I promised readers "poetry, playlists, book reviews, mindful travelogues, creative events and opportunities for the Waikato’s young writers, readers and listeners." It's been nine months since that first post (woohoo!) and I think this blog has delivered on all those promises, except one. So it's about time that #LivingLit had a travelogue post, and Seed's #wellbeingmonth is the perfect time to do it. So let's get going!
What has travel got to do with #LivingLit?
It would take more than my fingers and toes to count how many beautiful poems, films, and other works of art and literature have been inspired by travel. Countless humans have traveled as near as their garden, or as far as the other end of their country, and made art out of their steps. Vivaldi saw the seasons and heard violins playing concertos. John Steinbeck, Robert Frost, Walt Whitman, Christina Rosetti, Emily Dickinson, and Sarah Kay are just some of the poets who took their road trips, their understanding of place, and turned them into pieces of writing that have touched millions. (Please click on those names by the way. I have made them all links to poems and books that you will find interesting.) These artists used their life experience, their experience of travel, as springboards for creativity. As one of my favorite authors, Ray Bradbury wrote:
Good writers touch life often.
To get to the point, travel has something to do with #LivingLit because travel is a part of life. Whether you sit in traffic, walk to the bus stop, or hitchhike, you are travelling and it is a part of life. But for the youth of the 21st century (i.e. you and me) travel has taken on a new dimension and is full of exciting possibilities that our parents may still find hard to believe.
Been bitten by the Millennial travel bug?
If you have, you're not the only one. Millennials are the most traveled generation to date. An article in Forbes quotes some impressive stats and ends with the observation that "Millennials are growing up in a world where travel is easier and relatively cheaper than for previous generations and they are taking full advantage of this to travel the globe in search of new experiences." Places that our grandparents only ever saw on encyclopedia pages (remember those?) are now pretty accessible (with a lot of saving and less cafe visits of course).
But there may be a down side to our obsession with hitting TripAdvisor's Top 10 Destinations.
I'm not sure what the stats are, but we probably spend more time getting places than we do staying in any one place. On a plane, in the car, on a bike, or walking across the street, our focus always seems to be on what's next. We're always looking out for the next stop that we might forget to take a look out the window. We forget to enjoy the ride. In a world dominated by the effects of globalisation we should remind ourselves that...
It's not about where you go but about how you view the journey.
Pico Iyer gives a couple of mind blowing talks about the need for this perspective shift. He tells his audience about the need to stop. About how essential it is to be able to find meaning where we are in the moment instead of in the next big trip. Or even, in the midst of that next big trip.
The trick is that sometimes we need to retrain our brains to hit pause. To look around. To face the here and now. And while we can do that in our everyday surroundings, sometimes we need a change of scene too. I'm not saying we shouldn't be globetrotters. I'm saying that we shouldn't lose ourselves in the process. Those artists that I mentioned before? They traveled like they meant it. They were mindful in their comings and goings and that helped their creativity to flourish.
So here's my #LivingLit advice for Seed's #wellbeingmonth:
Get out. At the end of your work day, on a Friday afternoon, on your way to Uni, or taking advantage of your lunch break, go outside. Appreciate the beauty that is right here around you that you may have taken for granted. But be mindful when you do it. Unplug from your devices. Switch everything to flight mode even if it's just for 15 minutes. We don't need to go see the world to be well traveled. All we need is to keep our senses and minds open. In case you're stuck for ideas on where to go beyond Victoria on the River keep reading.
Spots for stopping and thinking (and in my case writing):
Close(ish) to home, perhaps a little underappreciated, and beautiful at any time of day, here are four places where it's easy to stop. To follow the advice of C. S. Lewis:
Shut your mouth; open your eyes and ears. Take in what is there and give no thought to what might have been there or what is somewhere else. That can come later, if it must come at all.
1. Te Toto Gorge Lookout, Raglan
2. Till's Lookout, Dinsdale
3. Maungakawa Scenic Reserve, Cambridge
4. Bob's Landing and Maungatautari Road, Karapiro
Go forth. Plug these destinations into Google Maps, Waze, or whatever pathfinding app you use these days. Put your favorite road trip playlist on. But don't forget to enjoy the ride.
In case that isn't enough we can also be mindful this #wellbeingmonth by:
Checking out The Waikato Story for more local destinations.
Keep up with the details on Hamilton Central's Winter Wonderland so that you can have some family fun in the heart of The Tron.
If you want some proof on the positives of globalisation have a look at the website for Festival For The Future 2018.
Need more inspiration to find meaning in the local scene? Look up Seed's June event about finding purpose in your playground.
Mindfulness loves mindful company. So don't forget to take advantage of Seed's collaboration deals for #wellbeingmonth.
And until next time, keep #Livinglit.