An (Only Somewhat) Unexpected Journey

“Then something Tookish woke up inside him, and he wished to go and see the great mountains, and hear the pine-trees and the waterfalls, and explore the caves, and wear a sword instead of a walking-stick.” — The Hobbit

In which Josh sets out on his own to sail/fly/train through the spots that would be marked “here be dragons” on an old atlas. In other words, I’ve packed my whole life into many many boxes and one large bag and am taking off around the world to explore other cultures…and myself.

The guiding principle of this trip was (and still is, to some degree) to study the performing arts traditions of as many cultures as I can in Europe and Japan. But I have had to accept the fact that most theater schools do not offer drop-in classes year-round for beginners who do not speak the native language and are only staying in town for a few weeks max. Shocking.

At any rate, I will still try to stay true to that goal, but allow myself to just enjoy and learn about other cultures more broadly. I’ve lived almost my entire life in Providence and the suburbs of New York: that’s a pretty narrow slice of experiences.

My favorite part of any fantasy novel is the map (hence the cover photo). It hints at an entire world, completely alien to me, but fully realized. It makes the story seem more authentic to have geographic evidence of the adventures contained within, even though I can only see a portion of the world laid out. Even someone as obsessively meticulous as Tolkien knew that he could instill even more wonder in readers by hinting at lands and peoples outside the map provided. There is limitless potential bound up in his map’s boundaries: if I am not provided with an explanation of what lay beyond, my imagination can fill in the gaps however it pleases.

I suppose this trip is my way of chasing that wonder I first had as a child, poring over Tolkien’s maps. Our world is pretty well mapped out now — we basically know where everything is and who and what lives there. But that doesn’t tell us anything about what it’s actually *like* there.

What are people like in other countries? How do they approach life? What interests them, and what is important to them, and where do the two meet? What do they think of the state of American politics? What do they think will happen in the next season in Game of Thrones? These are the questions I want to try to ask and hopefully answer.

But I also intend to do some soul-searching. I have a fairly strong sense of self after 25 years, but that doesn’t mean that I can’t still surprise myself. So, I am going to fathom my depths, push myself out of my comfort zone frequently and consistently, and see what happens.

The purpose of this blog is twofold: to serve as a place to collect and process my own thoughts about my travels, and, of course, to update anyone interested in them. I don’t know yet how often I will post, or what the posts will look like in tone, content, or form. I expect I’ll make occasional updates on Facebook as well — something along the lines of “going [here] today” or “just saw [place]” — while these posts will be more introspective and self-indulgent. But I don’t know for sure. I want to keep this as loose and flexible as possible. Maybe I’ll torture you all and start writing poetry one night. Regardless, I’m excited to discover and share as I go along.

Thanks in advance for reading.

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