LUCID JOURNEYS – INTRODUCTION
“There are only two worlds — your world, which is the real world, and other worlds, the fantasy. Worlds like this are worlds of the human imagination: their reality, or lack of reality, is not important. What is important is that they are there. These worlds provide an alternative. Provide an escape. Provide a threat. Provide a dream, and power; provide refuge, and pain. They give your world meaning. They do not exist; and thus they are all that matters. Do you understand?”
-Neil Gaiman, The Books of Magic
I have always been fascinated with everyone else’s stories much more so than my own. Every person brings with them a different perspective of the world shaped by a lifetime of experiences. I love getting to meet new people and hearing their stories because it provides a release from my mundane point of view with the opportunity to engage with something that’s unfamiliar and possibly fantastical. I envy great storytellers. Not only because they can captivate an audience through the command of their narrative, but also for their ability to invoke the imagination of others, allowing listeners to claim and pass on those stories as their own.
I’m hoping to use this blog as practice for developing my own storytelling skills. Fortunately, I should have enough material to work with as I will be taking a journey across the Pacific to adventure through New Zealand and Southeast Asia for the next five months. To quickly catch everyone up with my current state of mind, I have spent the last two years working as a pharmaceutical and biotech consultant. While the work itself was interesting and a great learning opportunity, I wasn’t personally satisfied with how I reacted to corporate culture. A lot of the relationships I had with clients or coworkers felt really artificial. That coupled with the fact that I was/still am living at home with my parents made it difficult to develop any meaningful relationships outside of the few close friends that stayed in contact. I decided to leave my consulting job in the summer to pursue another project that wound up falling through after a couple of months. I have a couple of ideas that I have been playing around with for my next endeavor, but in the meantime, I have decided to spend half a year abroad to gain some new perspectives. I don’t think traveling will give me all the answers I’m searching for, but by the end of it, I hope the experiences and people I meet along the way will serve as stepping stones towards self-discovery.
“I’ve been making a list of the things they don’t teach you at school. They don’t teach you how to love somebody. They don’t teach you how to be famous. They don’t teach you how to be rich or how to be poor. They don’t teach you how to walk away from someone you don’t love any longer. They don’t teach you how to know what’s going on in someone else’s mind. They don’t teach you what to say to someone who’s dying. They don’t teach you anything worth knowing.”
-Neil Gaiman, The Sandman, Vol. 9: The Kindly Ones
I think one of my biggest weaknesses is having the tendency to choose comfort over the unaccustomed. I can’t even begin to recall all the experiences I could have potentially missed out on just because I was afraid to step outside my comfort zone. Part of the rationale for my upcoming trip was to force myself to be in a position where I needed to be independent and to have the opportunity to explore what the world has to offer. I have the fortune of having met some amazing people who have been able to coerce me out of my shelter and create pastimes that have become passions. In spirit of the St. Louis Crew, it is my goal to continue discovering the gems of our world and capturing the moment so I can share it back with all of you.
While I’m the topic of my peers, something that I have come to regret was the alienation from good friends and the missed opportunities for new ones in the most recent years. While I was working, I would always find the excuse that it was too exhausting to reach out for social connections. I think everyone reaches that point to some degree, but it wasn’t until I started having a bit more free time that I began to realize how much I missed having a network of storytellers in my life. Recently, I’ve been reaching out to old friends to catch back up. I hope this blog will help me reopen some of those pathways for dialogue. As I’ve stated before, your stories and anecdotes provide with a great deal of enjoyment. I can only hope that my adventures will be worthy of presenting back to you.
“People think dreams aren’t real just because they aren’t made of matter, of particles. Dreams are real. But they are made of viewpoints, of images, of memories and puns and lost hopes.”
-Neil Gaiman, The Sandman, Vol 1. Preludes and Nocturnes
I wanted to write this all out before I left to have as record that I could reflect back on. The concept of self-discovery is still a foreign idea for me. For a while I had an identity that I was very much attached to. Following a series shortcomings, I’d like to think that it wasn’t a genuine representation of myself as I had not reached a state of true contentment. But it lead me to the conclusion that there is purpose and beauty through the exploration of people, dreams, and fantasy. These guides serve to open our reality to the potential opportunities given to us in this lifetime. It is our responsibility to journey through these worlds to further our understanding and appreciation of self. Another expression of this concept was passed to me from a wise, old man, “I can’t even imagine what sort of beautiful things will meet you along this particular section of your path, but I do think it’s accurate to say that the constant will always be you. And the hope is that, regardless of from where the beholder beholds, the perspective is a consciously cultivated intention rather than a reactionary adaption.”
If you’ve come this far, I want to thank you for taking the time to listen to my story. I would like to continue developing similar narratives for future posts. The first reason is for my own reference – to have as a reflection of a particular stage in my life. The second is for you as audience member. I’ve just started picking up photography and editing, so I want to apologize now for the crap that will be published. But rather than just to have me recap the places I will have visited, I think there would be greater meaning if there are more opportunities for dialogue. I would rather this message reach a handful of friends for the chance of a discussion than to make a name for myself among strangers. So please, feel free to send me a message () for storytelling, suggestions, or just to say hello.
PS I’ve included some pictures I took in Taiwan and Japan. If you click on the picture or have the HoverZoom extension (which I highly recommend) the pictures will blow up nice and big for you. I’ll do my best to update these in a separate post later on. If there are any photographers out there reading this, I would love any tips or advice.