This week’s ‘Other People’ Podcast, by Brad Listi, has a great discussion about going ‘off the grid’ (the week’s podcast is also an interview with Rex Pickett, author of the novel ‘Sideways’). While explicitly about writing and the writer’s life, I think the podcast highlights a perpetual traveler’s struggle to understand the world in which we live by both engaging with it in an meaningful way (exploring the back
alleys of some foreign city and befriending local cab drivers at a smoke-clogged hole-in-the-wall pizza joint) while also disengaging (being alone in a new place and observing the world from the outside in order to better understand that place from which we came).
As Listi notes (and I’m paraphrasing):
“[This podcast is about] the issue of dropping out as it pertains to writers. The impulse to drop out is integral to a writer’s DNA. That impulse to live on the periphery and instead to kind of live as a lone wolf, apart. Then, of course, there’s that writer’s irony that you spend countless hours alone in front of a computer screen all locked away in some apartment or room. And you do this in a desperate attempt to connect with other people through your writing. Or maybe ‘desperate’ isn’t the right descriptor. Maybe ‘urgent’ is a better word. I think that’s accurate, because in order to make good art, it needs to come from a place of urgency.”
I think this same impulse and urgency ‘to drop out’ is as integral to the traveler’s DNA as it is to the writer’s (aha! moment: perhaps that is why I love both to travel and to write?). We travel often in order to ‘get away’ from some seemingly mundane existence, while also, at the same time, returning home with a better, perhaps more enlightened, sense of our own origins. How can we effectively straddle that line between living in the world and observing it? How can we best communicate our experiences in order to connect with other living, breathing human beings struggling in the same way? Does it matter?
For answers (or at least more questions), I encourage you to listen to the Other People podcast (you can also find it on iTunes), so that even if you can’t afford that plane ticket as of yet, you can still take a mental journey of sorts…
ps- Stay thirsty, my friends.