Curiosity; Focussing on the Journey — Space, Travel and the Need to Express and be Inspired
by Jacob Little
In our search for something ‘other’ — something outside the life we’re currently leading, and for most people in their 20’s something that we’re always being told is defineably unreachable, there appears to be an acknowledgement that the right thing to do in life is to gravitate towards the tendency for social polemesicm. Think this, do that, be this person. Work harder. Be better. Understand your place. Read this. Watch this. Upgrade. Subscribe. Sign up. What filters do you use on your Instagram?
’10 places you need to see before you die.’
’10 workplaces for a more productive future’
’10 reasons to change everything or fail’
Focussing on the destination as a concept in itself has always concerned me. Amongst the noise, online or otherwise, we rarely have time to take stock. It’s not that we don’t acknowledge how we need to live our lives to understand what’s going on, it’s that we’re not allowed to. Nobody gives us space, nobody gives us anything to tell us we’re doing the best we can on the way there but that it’s the people that matter and that none of us are going anywhere. We’re all here, and all trying to reach our own destination that only we can understand.
Comprehending the need to journey as an idea in itself has got me thinking about the need to keep asking why, and the need to understand that sometimes it’s not the process but the people that you need to keep you asking why. Everyone is bad at it when they’re at a push — but fundementally it’s probably the one thing that can stop anyone from moving forward.
Getting from A to B, in whatever form, always ellicitcs an emotional response.
This is the night mail crossing the border,
Bringing the cheque and the postal order,
Letters for the rich, letters for the poor,
The shop at the corner and the girl next door.
Past cotton grass and moorland boulder,
Shovelling white steam over her shoulder,
Snorting noisily as she passes
Silent miles of wind-bent grasses.
In the 1936 documentary Night Mail, in which the journey of the postal train overnight from England to Scotland is inspiringly set to music by Benjamin Britten, the journey is all that matters. In reality, the only reason the train exists, as with any mode of transport, is to reach its destination.
Except it never mentions getting there. Only what it observes along the way. How people feel, how they interact, how they see the world around them. When we’re all on the way there in our lives, why is it sometimes so hard to stop and admire what we come across? We all have our own wind-bent grasses and moorland boulders — we all know where they are but we all ignore them.
The need to express, in whatever form that might take, is the only thing that can get us closer to the idea of a journey, and help us understand that through this process we may end up finding that we don’t need a destination. We all need to succeed, we all need to find worth and we all need money. We all need to be part of a system but this is nothing to do with that. It’s everything to do with finding a headspace that allows you to know that the stopping and the admiring are going to be the only things you’ll remember in life.
They have cradled you in custom, they have primed you with their preaching
They have soaked you in convention through and through;
They have put you in a showcase; you’re a credit to their teaching
But can’t you hear the Wild? — it’s calling you.
Let us probe the silent places, let us seek what luck betide us;
Let us journey to a lonely land I know.
There’s a whisper on the night-wind, there’s a star agleam to guide us,
And the Wild is calling, calling . . . let us go.
Before we can go into the wild and trust — we perhaps have to understand and acknowlede our own limitations. We all achieve a lot in life, but it’s only a lot for us and the people around us. Other people may not see it like that.
If you are creative and feel a need to express, in whatever form that takes, you’ll want to keep finding someone better at the journey. Better at the expression and better at feeling and understanding space. Through practise and learning you’ll find that you don’t want to be like them, but you’ll want to keep being inspired by them. This is the only thing that matters in life — and this way of thinking leaves us free from worrying about the destination — who you want to be, who you want to sign up to, which contract to sign, which upgrade to get — focussing on what it takes to get us there, learning along the way.
Originally published in medium.com on October 14, 2015.