Two years now, two full years and change since this body of mine has stood where I stand above, hell, since it’s left this country. Two years of stillness with only brief and tiny and relatively geographically insignificant travel. Two years without movement, and I cannot sugarcoat any longer, I cannot pretend it is not eroding at my internal calm and peace, I cannot act like it’s not making positivity an absolute chore sometimes. This is mental health, and this is the awareness of it, the ability to say, I will not always be optimistic, I will not always be a beacon of positivity and grace, sometimes I will struggle, and I will ache, and I will have horrible dark days and long sleepless nights where I feel like I’m on the edge of losing my mind. I’m here to be honest with you, in hopes that in doing so, it gives you the permission you never needed but maybe secretly were hoping for, to do the same. It’s OK to hurt, to struggle, to feel bogged down with sorrow or worry or anxiety or stress or even discontent though by all accounts you “should” be happy. I hope you know this.
Today, this piece, this Signal Fire Sunday Edition is not necessarily about this aching, but about the source of it, the reason I feel so lost at sea lately. Travel, quite simply folks, travel. This is about what it is to go, to seek, to see, to witness, and to explore. Robert Louis Stevenson, one of the most amazing authors (and Scotsman!) to ever write, once said: “I travel not to go anywhere, but to go. I travel for travel’s sake. The great affair is to move.” This, this is the fundamental truth behind it for me, and I think I speak for Sarah when I say she feels the same way. Travel to go, to be in the process of going, to seek out what we are told is the unknowable, and understanding that when the going has gone and the dust has settled, we still don’t know, but are all the better for our newly confirmed ignorance. We go to find, yes, but we go more because we know we never will. We know time is fast and life is short and nothing we can do will slow the tides, nothing will stop what’s coming for us, and what’s more, we never know when what is coming will catch up. We go to outpace our own expiration, to fill our minds with such stunning and glorious memories that when it comes to starting over, same soul in new skin, we are treated to a highlight reel of such immense beauty, only peace washes over our tired selves. Only joy and tearful recollection, the last melancholic nostalgia we will ever know.
Over the months, nearly twenty-four now, of being forced to be frozen, I’ve learned just what role travel has played in my life. With all this time, I’ve looked backwards, deep diving into my own history, and I realized just how foundational this travel has always been. I grew up in a family with a professional baseball player as a father, we moved when he moved, we went where he went, and so we ping-ponged across a continent, across a hemisphere, chasing the boys of summer well into autumn each year. This went on from my birth (literally my first baseball game was when I was 3 days old) until I was 16 years old. Peripatetic blood runs through these veins, and it’s thicker now than ever before. Luckily, I found a partner with the same itch to go that exists in me, and so for the last 12 years we too have bounced around a planet like some over-inflated beach ball, batted into the air by the hands of our wedding clients, our book publishers, our brave couples choosing to elope far away from the things of man. We went everywhere, from small towns in the middle-of-nowhere Illinois, to even smaller towns on the Eastern edge of France, from fishing villages in Jamaica to the Highlands of Scotland, from New Jersey to Southern California, the mountains of Canada to the white beaches of Turks & Caicos to just about every possible city in these here United States. This travel bug bit us hard, and we felt more alive than I’ve the words to explain, and now, here, stuck in the same loop around the same hillside for two full years, I feel disconnected from not only the world at large, but the inner-workings of myself, the true beat of this soul and the magnet like pull it has to the wild places on our earth. I feel locked away from who I am at my core, I feel like an opera singer after vocal chord surgery, like a painter newly colorblind and alone. I do not like this feeling, and I feel powerless to combat it right now. I seek the miracles in my current mundanity, I always have, but at some point the demons of despondency rise back up, growl in the center of me, and refuse to be ignored.
I know I will travel again, I know the world will be there when things open back up safely and securely and clients who need our photography come calling once more (Please, Please call again if you wish to be photographed, if you’re getting married or eloping, WE MISS YOU) and when they do we will answer, but for now I’m just feeling lost, cut off and isolated on this mountainside overlooking the same valley for the last two years. I miss you all, I miss the seeking, I miss the movement, goodness, I even miss the hassle that pops up inevitably. I miss it all, and it just to me reconfirms the immense power that travel has. The world teaches us, people of other cultures teach us, and I miss learning first hand how small I truly am. I miss feeling this true connection to a great big something, and I cannot wait until it returns.
The great affair is to move, Stevenson said, and I feel my blood rushing to my feet, to my eyes to see wonders I haven’t yet dreamed of. I am here world, madly in love with you, waiting to hold you once more. Please don’t give up on me yet, please know I’m trying my very best to get back. Soon, I say, more plea than promise, Soon. I’m coming.
*On another note, tomorrow is my lovely wife, Lady Sarah Linden Gregson’s (yes, she’s a real Lady, as we are technically land-owners in Scotland due to a wedding gift of 2 square feet by 2 square feet, and dammit that makes us Lord and Lady Gregson) BIRTHDAY. If you would be so kind, send her a quick email: firstname.lastname@example.org and even offer her a few tiny words to tell her how loved she really is. She’s a force, friends, and deserves a little recognition. Thank you so much!*
*Also, if I spoke in the podcast about needing, but not having, Intro music or a "theme song” please note, I recorded the audio before I figured out the theme music :) Sorry for the confusion.*
Go until we find,
or until we understand
that we never will.
Song of the Week
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