11 May 2015

The Many Meanings of Safe Travels

Being at home can sometimes be just as dangerous as leaving it.  This is particularly so when becoming a victim of an accident,  illness, natural disaster or criminal act.  Here in Australia, we have often experienced natural disasters, and cultural ones.

Sometimes, people need to find the road to recovery.

Sometimes, people need to travel to escape drought, floods and fires.

Sometimes, travel becomes a language expedition.

Sometimes, the digital environment for travels is not safe.

Sometimes, the economic aspects of travelling are not as secure and stable as they could be.

In 1985, I spent Christmas in Kathmandu.  My travels had taken me overland from London during the preceding months.

I had seen many aspects of Nepal, and all the countries in between en route there.  Everyone in the group I was with had arrived safely. We had much to celebrate after an eventful ten week journey, even with gastrointestinal unpleasantness on more than one occasion.

My reasons for going on that journey were many.  Seeing the real world was what interested me, especially after working in the production of television news and current affairs. 

Small screens show little more than snapshots, much like my grainy photographs of that time.  Finding the truth of the world is difficult when our minds are distorted by our own perceptions, impressions and expectations.

I know my travels have often been a mixture of the sublime, the superlative and the soggy.

I know I often reflect on the reasons for travels.

I know that your amazing journey into existence has not been quite the same as mine.

I know that I usually enjoy reflecting on times and places, regardless of whether I have experienced them or not.  Times can be remembered, imagined and even documented.  Places can be documented too, or at least the frozen moments in time in various places can be kept in some form.

The more I travel the more I think about the meaning of going home.  When travels are not as safe as we hope they will be, there may be no going home at all.

I have visited many places in the world where earthquakes have occurred and volcanoes have erupted. My good fortune is that I have never been in those places at such times. 

The roads in Australia are dangerous enough but often not as dangerous as those elsewhere.

Yet safe travels today also mean being able to maintain some privacy, especially to prevent identity theft.  I know that privacy and travel can mean different things to different people.  The Nepalese people I met certainly thought about privacy differently than I did.

The survivors of any sort of disaster are those who manage to escape danger.  It is well known that global prosperity means little to those who have lost everything.

29 December 2014

Searching for Reality

Can reality ever be found except by living it and searching for the truth?

When I began my travels, many years ago, I wanted to know what the world was really like.  Of course, I had read about the world in books.  I had heard about it in school.  I had seen and heard different worlds through films and on television.

The books I preferred to read were mostly about fact rather than fiction.  I was not particularly interested in dolls or imaginary worlds.  I was interested in the reality of the wider world.

When I was a child, my family appeared to live differently from other families.  My parents seemed to me to be different from the parents of other children.  My childhood did not seem to me to be like the childhoods of other children.

Often, I did not feel as if other children had an affinity towards me.  My reality was that I had few true friends, no matter how hard I tried to be friendly. 

I did not know why it was so difficult for me to feel accepted for who I was.  My reality was that for other people to like me, I was meant to fit in with their ideas of reality rather than my own.  Many of those ideas were in conflict with each other, and with my own ideas of reality.  That is a social reality I have always experienced!

For me, there are many types of travel, some of which are more inward looking and some of which are more outward looking.  When searching for reality, inner travel is about becoming more aware of ourselves, others and the world around us, often through study and reflection.   Outward travel can have many different purposes, although most of them are probably hedonistic for one reason or another.

I like to make journeys to see how my inner travels, in the world as I imagine it, may match the reality of my perceptions and first-hand experiences in the wider world.  As I grow older, my reasons for doing so have changed.  In more recent years, I like to have a stronger sense of personal purpose in my travels than the vague curiosity of earlier years.

In your life, is searching for reality related to searching for meaning of some sort?  As a child, I had visited only a few places with my parents.  We had holidays in the same place every summer, often with the same people.  I was not sure if that meant that the lives of other people where more real than my own.  In my later travels, I found that most people live very similar lives in many routine respects, regardless of their wealth or lack of it.

You may be the sort of person who enjoys singing, dancing and travelling, and perhaps even combine those activities in a professional or amateur capacity. I have seen dances and heard songs in many parts of the world.  I also now know that most people travel only when they feel the need to do so for economic or cultural reasons.

It seems to me that participating in various cultural activities is a way that many people search for meaning.  They may even search for reality through culture and nature.  It is only when escaping violence or natural disaster that travel takes on a different meaning for people.

I know I am very glad I can search for information through the internet, but that I do not find reality there.  There is nothing real about life lived through any sort of screen, although many people appear to live much of their lives that way. 

In my late teens and early 20s, I worked in London, as you may already know.  One of my office jobs involved television documentaries about the early days of cinema and the beginnings of Hollywood.  I had already worked with the makers of documentaries about more recent world events, many of which were often in the news.  I had also travelled extensively in Europe, Asia and South America by my mid 20s. 

Yet travels can seem less of a reality at times than the daily journey to the office.  Routines can provide more sense of reality and continuity in life than the seemingly endless experiences of newness.  Eating and sleeping are two familiar realities, at least when feeling reasonably well. 

There is also the routine of housework to consider as the basis of reality, especially when the politics of an unfair burden of that routine is considered.  If you tend to do most of the routine jobs in a household or office, it could be the case that you have a greater sense of reality than those who do fewer of them!

Is certainty or uncertainty the basis of your usual reality?  Is certainty or uncertainty the basis of your travels?  If you are interested in science, how does your interest relate to your search for reality?

I find that reflecting on my own and other people's experiences of times and places is useful when planning ahead, though none of us yet know the reality of our own future, even with the assistance of science and the internet.

As I currently live in Australia, I often reflect upon the likelihood of inconveniences and tragedies such as drought, bushfires and floods when making travel plans.  It is unfortunate that many people appear to be inadequately prepared for such eventualities, even if they live in regions prone to them. 

The unpleasant reality, all around the world at present, is that the vast majority of people are too poor to move to somewhere safer and/or too ignorant to know how to avoid disasters.  The journey towards adequate wealth and adequate information is a necessary one for all people, if they are to survive and thrive in another year.  The reality is that the political will and ability to assist that process is lacking.

The continual journey towards more justice and fairness in the world is one I hope millions of people will share with me during 2015.  It will hopefully be a joyful journey, where successful planning will turn into a pleasant reality for everyone wishing to participate.

24 August 2014

Benefits of Planning, Experiencing and Remembering

All journeys are about planning, experiencing and remembering. We can have journeys of discovery and self-discovery without even leaving home.  We can experience journeys through time, by exploring history, by reflecting on life, by predicting future events, and by preparing for what may, quite possibly, happen.

If it beneficial to think about the happiest journeys we have planned, experienced and remembered, as well as the journeys that have been full of difficulties, and those somewhere in between.