Tag Archives: Dan Eldon

The Journey is the Destination

This post was originally published on Beacon Reader, an experiment in crowdsourced publishing that has subsequently ceased to exist. RIP Beacon Reader. 
Overview

I spent the past 48 hours traveling 3,500 miles away from home. The trip wasn’t the straight line it was slated to be, but that’s OK. Whenever I set out, I remember that the journey is the destination.

I’m sitting in the JFK international terminal waiting to board after a 24 hour delay. The four Norwegian girls sitting across from me are giggling the way girls everywhere do. A lanky guy with a backwards hat and club kid vibe just exclaimed “Scheiße” upon finding all the outlets were full. All the loose ends have been tied. The bags have been packed, the records have been digitized, and the apartment has been sublet. All the goodbyes have been said, drunk and teary and screaming into the New York City night.

The journey has begun.

On the cab ride to the airport I felt lighter. There are so many things I’ve missed about traveling. I’ve missed living out of a suitcase and knowing that all the objects I posses I can carry. I’ve missed listening to foreign chatter and making up my own stories for what people are talking about. I’ve missed waking up energized for exploration, and falling asleep physically exhausted rather than dragging myself awake with coffee and forcing my noisy mind to sleep pharmaceutically. I’ve missed being “the foreigner” to everyone around me, and most of all, I’ve missed being always inspired to write because everything is so new and strange and wonderful.

Before I left on my first trip, a friend of mine showed me a travel journal of Dan Eldon, a Kenyan photojournalist who died too young. It was called The Journey is the Destination, and that’s what I tell myself every time I go anywhere. He’s the reason I started keeping travel journals and scrap books to document my adventures. Some people get frustrated when they encounter obstacles that force a curvy path rather than a straight line from point A to B. I try to see obstacles as part of the trip. Traveling is a lot more fun when your 24-hour flight delay turns into an excuse to rage with your best friends at Japanese speakeasies for one last night, a seven-hour flight with no WiFi or in-flight entertainment creates opportunities to break in the new notebooks, and an eight-hour layover becomes a challenge to conquer Oslo’s public transport system and make the most out of a totally perfect day.

After my 48 hour journey traveling 3,500 miles away from home, I’ve finally reached my destination. It’s 1:10am in Prague right now and I’ve just settled into my new home-away-from-home for the next month. It’s in the attic of a hotel where Einstein and Kafka have purportedly stayed, is filled with walnut furniture, and has a view of a castle. It’s nice to be back in the old country. Tomorrow I’ll go claim my new desk at a Czech co-working space, meet my new travel companions in the Remote Year crew, and find some locals to show me around town. But now, I sleep. It feels great to be exhausted again.

(Up next: A photo-essay about how I spent 8 my hours in Oslo.)

Destination Unknown

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This post was originally published on Beacon Reader, an experiment in crowdsourced publishing that has subsequently ceased to exist. RIP Beacon Reader. 

As you may know, I’m traveling around the world right now. I lived in NYC for five years which, as any legit New Yorker will tell you, is like being in an abusive relationship with the coolest guy in the world. Even now, as I sit in my big French apartment in Toulouse, which I will leave in two days to head to my next apartment in Paris, I can’t help but think to myself that I miss “the grind.”

Remnants of that grind are what propels me in my current journey. New York was my boot camp, and it gave me the confidence to know that I can stretch my tentacles out and get what I need no matter where I am. So far, the results have been awesome.

I’ve been an official expat since July 22, 2013 when I took a 21-hour train ride from my hometown, Ann Arbor, Michigan, across the Canada border. When I tweeted the duration of my journey, my friend and e-doctor Peter pointed out that the trip only takes five hours by car. “Are you walking there?” he asked.

This was the moment I recalled a token of wisdom that Max, one of my loft-mates in downtown LA this past June, had given to me one night while cooking steaks. I was worrying out loud about how I was going to get from place to place by myself during my upcoming journey around the world, and he turned to me and said: “The journey is the destination.”

I had him repeat it a few times, rolling it around in my mind. He told me about Dan Eldon, the man who coined this phrase, and we flipped through his travel journal with wide-eyed wonder that night while we ate our steaks. I liked this concept. It meant that, while lying on a blanket in the grass outside the Buffalo AmTrak station reading Peter’s tweet during the seven-hour layover I overlooked while booking the cheapest ticket possible, I was content because I was already where I wanted to be: traveling.

I have recalled this nugget of reasoning frequently over the past three months, and it’s taken me to places not found in any tourist guide. I’ve been to the top of an Icelandic volcano, to middle-of-nowhere England in a town full of characters that may have inspired Alice and Wonderland or vice versa, and into the mountains of Catalan country where I worked on a farm. And I’m just getting started.