Photo: Leo Hidalgo
You’re sitting in Tuba Bar, your favorite hang-out in Bangkok. You’ve got an icy Singha in front of you. Tuba is sweet as ever, the erotic paintings just as alluring, the people just as intriguing — and you know that first sip of Singha is going to clear the dust from your throat. You’re not worried about your throat. You’re worried about the dust in your mind. You’ve been in Bangkok for a few days, but minute by minute, you begin to feel as though you might as well be back home in WhoCaresVille. You think it might be time to move on, but if you can’t raise your hand to sip that Singha, how are you going to get your butt out of the chair and out the door to what might come next.
It’s not Tuba. It’s not Bangkok. It’s you. And you are not alone. Somewhere in the world — maybe The Outback, maybe the heart of London’s music scene, maybe rigging to run Cyrstal on the Colorado — a traveler has just realized that s/he is bored. The fabulous world has gone flat. Here’s how s/he may have smothered their travel fire:
1. Living on devices.
You use two of you senses — maybe three if you count touching the screen or keyboard — when you are on your phone and computer: sight and hearing. Fiery travel is creating. You move through your own story of your life. In order to do that, you need all your senses.
2. You figure out everything ahead of time.
We are most alive and the most creative when we are out of our routines. Just enough fear equals adrenaline lift-off. Routine smothers adrenaline. Thinking you know what will happen is a heavy wet blanket over your fire.
3. You drag your past and your obsessions with you.
Imagine hauling two suitcases, a carry-on bag, camera equipment, a backpack and the entire contents of your base camp with you. Imagine that you can’t stay away from wi-fi in the hostel because you just have to know what is going on in the: (pick two) election, soccer scores, Facebook life of your ex, World Series, Instagram, Snapchat…the list can be infinite.
The heart of restoring your travel fire lies in your choices — and in the stories you create not just about the world you move through, but yourself. Creatives know that secret. They know that as we are in relationship with our life, so we are in relationship with our creativity — and our travel. Here are three ways to stoke your fire — personal, travel, creative:
1. You and the real world around you are your story.
Decide to spend a limited amount of time on any of your devices. Research is showing that on-line time is addictive for many people. Leave your phone turned-off in your room or your pack. Head out into the world as soon as you’ve checked into your lodgings. Save wi-fi for later. Use all your senses as you go out into the unknown. Let yourself be scared. Let yourself be surprised. Let yourself that you are in the middle of a story or a film you’ve never experienced before.
2. Forget internet searches.
Do minimal planning. It’s a strong probability that the street-stall pakoras you find in your wanderings will be far more delicious (and cheaper) than the ones in that Calcutta restaurant you found through Google. The sapphire-eyed old woman who gives you directions to the wharf will tell you more stories than another traveler you found on FB. The winding streets to the jazz club in Hobart will be filled with so many surprises and treasures than you may not make it to the club.
3. In the words of Van Morrison’s Burning Ground, Hey man dump the Jute on the burning ground. Dump the Jute? Yeh you know, dump the Jute.
Only you really know what you are carrying. And, you know how much it weighs, how it sucks the beauty out of the world, how it blurs your vision, your hearing and your excitement. Write it out. Dance it out. Sketch it out. Pack it in a grocery bag and leave it in a dumpster. Or — feed it to your fire.