I used to tell people I hated traveling, and I think I meant that I loved it, because sometimes we feel so strongly about something that it can only be described in extremes and sometimes I misplace my extreme. (I frequently tell everyone I know how much I hate cake and I have no idea why, because I always say yes to it. And I always enjoy it. But brownies and cookies are better and cake is never on my radar, so surely it goes in the hate column, yeah? Yes.)
But I really truly do hate traveling, at least in the traditional “Visit every place on your must-see list and take a selfie there” sense. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, but I have a thing with expectations. I keep them low. I prefer to hop a flight and wander, where the only thing I google is the weather and where to go to acquire my morning coffee.
So in the traditional sense, traveling isn’t for me. But in the nontraditional sense, wandering very much is.
I feel most alive when I’m surveying the streets of new, eyes darting around to my favorite parts of God’s creation – people. I will never stop being fascinated by people. Their battle scars and inner thoughts and fanny packs; it’s just too much for me to not become obsessed with all of it. So in that respect, traveling is my cup.
And I think the reason why is because – at home, in my environment – I’m so easily distracted. I’m a plant that can grow in many climates. I cling to the vines around me and grow where they grow until I realize that I’m an ivy crawling up a building I was never intended for. And for me, that’s why traveling is so key. When I’m alone and wandering and watching, I can very clearly see what I am intended for. Like my brain works rear-view mirror style and when I’m finally able to see what I’m not, I can better see what I am.
Is this making sense? Gracious, this is not making sense.
So here’s what. I’ve been doing a ton of teaching lately – on creativity and purpose and the Internet and all of the above. And last week, in a beautiful studio in Singapore (thanks, Irene!), I watched the eyes of my students light up when they talked about what they do.
And I realized that my eyes light up that way – nearly every time – when I talk about design. When I talk about how hard a mixed media artist works and how far a textile designer has come and how we can vote with our dollar and support independent people that are trying to swim upstream to protect the environment or establish fair trade or create employment opportunities.
I don’t know why I have that in me. I didn’t grow up in a bustling design community and I didn’t study design or seek it out. It just kind of grew within me, and then I stopped watering it because I felt conflicted about it. Like if I’d been given a megaphone, surely I should be saying something more important than where to purchase these incredibly gorgeous shoes?
But it’s not that simple, and it also is. There’s something in me that bends toward design and creation and art, like a flower bending to the east or the west or whatever direction it was intended to bend. And it’s not fair to starve the soil.
Over the weekend, I jetted to Palm Springs (more on that later!) and spent the entire flight planning the beginning stages of a really beautiful product collaboration. And I don’t know if it’s leftover jet lag from back-to-back trips or if it’s the joyful adrenaline of creation but I’m just in this happy fog of purpose. Like, for now, I am supposed to spend my time doing this.
So I did and I am and I will. And I can’t wait to see where this healthy little vine leads.
What are you working on, friends?