I’m An Anomaly

What does a Storytelling Traveler write about when the traveling stops? This has been my struggle for the past six months. And I still don’t have an answer.

The East Coast- where I’m currently residing- has many challenges for me. This region of the world is so far engrained in the rat race that I feel that energy to my core. So much so, that rather than settle in the city, as I’d planned, I’m living in a Barn in the countryside. And it’s keeping me sane.

My Barn- and soon to be artist's studio- w/a traditional darkroom!

But the more challenging aspect of this shift in my life is the loss of words. I’m not sure if I just have less to say or if I’m just trying to adjust to this radical shift and location that doesn’t agree with me but the words don’t come to me now. I know one major problem is that many of the lifestyles I encounter here are in direct conflict with much of what I’ve written on this blog.

And when the words do find their way into my brain and the muse says, OK- let’s get these words out- the inner sensors start to filter everything that comes out.

It sounds like this:

Will this essay offend so-and-so who is part of my business/personal/recreational life?

Will so-and-so read this and make a verbal/personal attack on me and the people I love?

Will this editor or that creative director read this and think I’m a nut-job and not hire me?

Will my online community read this and think I’ve sold out or have crawled in bed with the evil consumption over-lords of the world?

Does this essay still align with the person I was last year and the person I am becoming now?

And the inner-gnomes go on and on and on.

Until the words that come out are piles of vanilla shit that really have no purpose than for me to try and hit the publish button on my almost 3 year old blog. And the words are so awful, I don’t even bother taking them out of my free-writing program into the editing phase.

I just let them rot and die on my computer.

And this makes me sad. It makes me question my choices and my own mental state that I can not focus and create good work in this environment. Correction- I can create excellent commercial work in this environment and always have when I’m on the East Coast. But powerful, personal, creative work, meaningful art? That’s another story.

I wonder if I have the mental strength to by-pass the creative blocks that this region of the world presents for me. I ponder this all the time. And now that the whirlwind of my personal life has died down and I’ve dealt with the emotions of losing my dog, moving to a new city, rebuilding a business that I thought was a past chapter in my life and this radical lifestyle change, I’m hoping I can make the shift into creative soul living on the East Coast.

One of the more fascinating aspects of this relocation is trying to explain my life to people. The social situations I find myself in are predominately professional settings and in some cases, with senior executives of large firms. They always ask where I moved from and my answer still has no clear definition. Sometimes I choose the easy route and say South Carolina- technically, it’s true.

But what about those 2 years of living nomadically all over the world? What about those lovely years of travel, exploration, struggle and art? What about the RV in Arizona and the Grand Canyon on my driver’s license? What about the summer in Europe and the winters in the desert? What about the months in Alma, Colorado when me and my dog nearly froze our asses off in the highest town in the country? What about the first Walkabout and the meandering through the West on trains, planes and automobiles?

What about all that I have been and all that I’ve seen the past two years since this blog started? When I tell someone a glossed over version of my past few years, I think a little part of me dies. I think I’m actually denying who I am and the creative person I’ve become because I’m afraid of the perceptions of strangers. Maybe that’s why the words have stopped- I’ve diminished their meaning because I’ve entered a world where people don’t understand a life like mine.

Another fascinating aspects of this transition is the internal comparison that happens, almost constantly, as I travel through my days here. My days are filled with meeting amazing new people who have accomplished quite a bit at the same age as me, or even younger. Our conversations are filled with topics like business development, investments and children. Now, I love some biz dev topics, but the rest of it is so foreign to me. My life is so different that at times, I look at all that I don’t have and didn’t build and think that I’m inadequate or don’t belong in this conversation.

I’m an anomaly.

Yep. That's me.

Yet, when our conversations drift towards art, exploration and travel, I can’t stop telling stories. I know people see my life as this thing they can hardly comprehend and a thing of beauty- when I actually tell them about it.

I feel as though I’m living two lives right now. I’m clinging to the person I became through my traveling and writing and experiencing the world. This person will always choose experience over stability, adventure over savings and beauty over routine. This person has always been a part of me- she just got to take the reins the past two years and have her way. This person is a minimalist, needs constant unknown environments and doses of external chaos and challenge to stay sane.

The other me, the me that is trying to wrestle the reigns back from the free-spirit, is the one who understands the role of stability in an adult’s life. She knows that the bills have to be paid, food needs to be on the table and since we’re not a nomad anymore, this has to happen with regularity and predictability. She also knows that with the right focus and stability, the artist is more than capable of making a living with her talents and skills. So she’s playing the professional game. And doing it well, I might add.

And at the end of a long week, when I get into my 17 year old pickup truck- whom I pat on the dashboard and gently ask her to get me through this period of transition until I move to the city or get a daily driver- I have to laugh at myself. I’m truly straddling two completely different worlds and I don’t want to let go of either. I have no desire to work 60+ hours a week, drive a fancy car and live in my inbox. Yet, I no longer want to live perpetually out of my suitcase wondering where the next bed will come from and wear the same shoes everyday.

So, what do I want?

I’d like a little balance please. Just a little. I want to navigate these new waters of a settled life with my grace and sanity intact. I want to feel at peace with my decisions to not participate in the mass consumption game that most of the folks in this part of the world participate in. I want the words to come freely and the art to flow without fear.

I want to proudly say that I’m not from anywhere. Or maybe that I’m from everywhere.

Seeking balance at the VMFA's Asian Art exhibit.