The Drifter Journals
Travelling Without Moving | Redefine Your World
Let’s face it: COVID sucks.
However you look at it, whatever side of the vax fence you may be on, whether little has changed or whether you have lost a job, a business or most tragically of all, a loved one, COVID can go bite the balls of a feral dog.
Some people have benefitted, and I’m not talking Bezos and his lizard-faced brethren. Some normal folks have had their lives changed for the better, and I must confess, on many levels I am one of them. But even in my insanely fortunate circumstances, that shitty little virus has been a thorn in my side. From the incredibly minor hassle of mask-wearing to the shattering realisation that I can no longer freely wander the world to visit family in blood or spirit; I am staggeringly grateful for how lucky and unscathed I have been by this global tornado... but I’m still pretty pissed.
However, dwelling in all that we don’t have, all that we can’t do and all that has been stolen from us is to wrap blindfolds to all that surrounds us.
It’s easy to get weighed down by the negatives. The rate of mental illness has been rising almost as steadily as the virus numbers of the World Health Organisation, and lock-downs, closed borders and disconnection are only exacerbating these figures. But by actively altering our perspective, silver linings can come into focus, we can begin to travel again, we can see the world once more and maybe, just maybe, we can see that even this shitstorm offers fertiliser for the radiant blossoms of life.
“A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step” – Lao Tzu
The world has gotten smaller.
It’s become an oxymoronic phrase: on the one hand, modern travel has made distant destinations far more accessible, yet on the other, COVID has turned our own country, our own neighbourhood, sometimes even our own house into our entire world.
Journeys have taken on gargantuan expectations. The further, the longer, the more exotic, the greater the journey, or so we had grown to believe. But even a single step can be a life-changing journey: stepping into a first kiss, inching five toes over the nose, or the shuffle to a cliff edge that sparks an unquenchable lust for life.
To beckon in zen masters and spiritual gurus, the reality of a journey is that we never travel anywhere - we are always within ourselves. It is what we perceive that defines a journey, and in that sense, a journey need never be far from your front door.
If you make the experience fresh, unique or inspiring, the destination is unimportant.
“Do not follow where the path may lead. Go instead where there is no path and leave a trail” – Ralph Waldo Emerson
We walk the same path every day. We go to work or school, we visit the same places, we surf the same waves and we drink the same coffee. There’s usually good reason based in need or preference, but the path remains Groundhog Day-ishly familiar.
If we break this mould every experience becomes a new one. Take the bus to work - you might see something new, make a new friend or read a life-changing story. Go somewhere new - it doesn’t have to be far, simply somewhere you have rarely been. Surf a new break - go left instead of right, surf a beach over a point, even if the conditions aren’t quite as good. Visit a different cafe - just because you can.
Remarkable things can occur in unremarkable places. Be aware of the experience, not just the location, and a whole new path appears at your feet.
Photo: @kimi_swimmy, Kimi Werner, by @cinematowski
“There’s a sunrise and a sunset every single day, and they’re absolutely free. Don’t miss so many of them” – Jo Walton
Whatever you’re doing, wherever you are, another world lies just beyond your periphery. Taking a camera through a city at dawn can offer a wealth of inspiration. Watching the sun rise, whatever the horizon, can fill you with its glow all day long.
When we break schedule, our own and that of the society around us, we see a new world. Pre-dawn surf sessions lack crowds but there is far more benefit to the early call than a proliferation of waves. The ethereal experience of surfing through the night’s relinquishing of the dark for the sun’s first rays can transform your perspective on an otherwise familiar location, making it completely new once more.
“Travelling – it leaves you speechless, then turns you into a storyteller” – Ibn Battuta
They say happiness shared is happiness doubled.
When you share an experience, no matter how familiar it is to you, you gain new perspective. It’s like teaching a loved one to surf. You may have surfed your entire life, but to see your partner, your friend or your child get to their feet for the first time is to feel that thrill for yourself. You feed off their stoke, revel in their little victories and ride that first wave with them, even from the dry sand.
Likewise, unified retrospect feeds the joy. Creating a new set of circumstances by sharing the experience is to breathe life into even the most familiar activity or location, and the stories shared will allow you to return to that place forever.
Jake & Ziggy MacKenzie - Sri Lanka, 2017
“The real voyage of discovery consists not in seeking new landscapes, but in having new eyes” – Marcel Proust
There are so many ways we can rediscover the world beyond our doorstep.
There’s a classic scene in the iconic movie Dead Poet’s Society when the inspirational English teacher, played by Robin Williams, gets his students to stand on a desk in the tired and oppressive classroom that has imprisoned them all term.
That single shift in perspective creates a different world. Raise your gaze, see the tops of trees and buildings instead of a metre in front of your feet. Take time to see the world for the first time again.
This concept isn’t confined to your visual perspectives. Anything can be new when we do it differently. Mix up your quiver, ride a singlefin, bodysurf the shore break, try ditching your fins on a small day and experience the thrill of the ancient la la slide.
This COVID world has confined us, but too often it is our minds that form the bars of our own cage.
Photos: Chris del Moro (top) & Joel Fitzgerald, Sumba. @gerhardimages
“Oh the places you’ll go” – Dr. Seuss
We may be restricted, but we are also so fortunate. Almost everyone reading this will be in good health. They will have access to proficient medical facilities, should they need them; they will have a secure income; they will be staring at a computer or phone screen in safe surroundings, with food in the refrigerator and water in the faucet.
We have all suffered in some small way over the last 24 months, had our freedom stolen from us, been constricted, challenged and frustrated. But it’s almost guaranteed that, if you’re reading this, you, like me, are one of the lucky ones.
So journey, travel, view the world through virgin eyes and see the adventures that lay at your feet.
Oh, the places you’ll go when only you let go of preconceptions.
*I would like to take this opportunity to express my deepest sympathies for all who have truly suffered. To our Bali family, the true locals who are struggling through illness, lack of income and more. To those who have lost more than civil liberties, who have lost health, careers, income or loved ones.
And to those who have jeopardised their health and wellness, the front-line workers who act with utter selflessness for the benefit of others, from my heart, I thank you.