Coming home from Bali was a bummer, but I was glad to get back into the swing of routine life. The strangest thing about travelling and returning is that you can feel so many different things towards either side of the flight. Bali was two weeks of non-stop novelty mixed with relaxation and excitement. Brisbane is home, routine, safety, comfort and familiarity.
But the most important thing of all is that it left subtle change in my mind. It got me thinking about culture, about food, and economy and living conditions, and even got me in the kitchen (about damn time). This idea of constant change has become an integral part of my life. If experiences don't improve or alter your life, then they're not that useful. And improve they have. My experiences and the people I've met changed me into a completely different person than I was ten years ago.
On that note, I don't prefer to discuss the details of my life history with most people, and I still don't know whether I'm cool with sharing this but what the hell. It's important to me, and it's why travel is something I'm determined to fit into every year. So here goes...
School! I felt like a fish out of water, never adhering to any particular group as well as I would have preferred. Being on the sharp end of the bullying stick often enough left bruises that ran onto into my working life after university. For a long time I had a severe lack of self esteem, suffering from shyness and all the effects that came with it. I didn't use the label at the time but I could have been depressed in some diagnosable way. How do you get out of that rut?
I did have good enough things in my life, sure. I was even in a classic rock 'n roll band making money, but that's just me being my positive-today-self. It wasn't until I met a bunch of musicians in a band called Ludavico that things started to actually change. Times and priorities shifted and so the band became a temporary three piece called Guards Of May.
Professional studio production, music videos, several gigs and mini-tours later, I decided that despite being my best mates, I couldn't keep pouring so much time and money into it. Photography had gotten me good and it was why I left music altogether at the end of 2012. As soon as I said my final decision, I felt an immediate sense of relief.
If You See A Corner, Take It
Sometimes you have no idea you had just turned the next corner in your march up to the base camp of a different life. In 2013 I went on a fourteen day Contiki bus ride around Europe in their summer with two of my friends. It was hilarious, fun, stressful and wildly illuminating. Your first big overseas trip does a whole lot of good to your way of approaching life. It did to mine. I was one of those people starting off in the middle of the bus, moving toward the back by the time it finished.
The West End Camera Club was next. Morgan Roberts, a photographer who had taken our original band portraits, put me onto Simon Johnson. Apparently I had become good enough in portrait photography to do my first ever workshop, so I just dived right in. Being a little nervous but with some confidence I pulled through with their help. Who would have thought teaching photography would be enjoyable like that? To be someone teaching other people how to create interesting and engaging portraits is a whole level up to me, especially after only a few years doing it myself.
Hiking is so immensely good for your mind. My best mate, Dash, and I are always trying to find the time to do it. It's like travel but a whole lot less expensive and time intensive. Living, working, hanging out and trying to be creative in one city takes its toll. My head clears up when I get out of Brisbane every so often.
Simon and I have spent a few weekends running around Melbourne over the last few years, with assorted other friends including Hannah, Rocky and Connor. These people have been one of the best things to happen in my own time on Earth. We've talked crap for hours and made photographs, climbed mountains at sunrise, run around coastlines and city streets, driven around Tasmania, travelled to distant tropical islands, and now we've just booked a two week group stay in Japan next year including a 4-5 day mountain trek, something I have wanted to do for ages (cheers Rocky).
To say life is sweet would be an understatement. I'm having the best damn time of all and it's because of everyone I've had the pleasure of knowing.
Wait, wasn't this about travel?
Travel is the one thing you can do where the limited amount of time available and costs involved means you should damn well say yes to that stunning and dangerous mountain trek, take that cooking class in the rice fields of Bali, eat that strange sounding meal in France, throw yourself into a bus full of 20-30 year olds and drive through Europe for two weeks.
Don't travel to "find yourself", travel in order to open yourself up to possibilities and tweak the sliders in your head ever so slightly. I always come back feeling a little different.
The more I travel, the more I say yes and the more I say yes, the better things become.