1:15 AM, early morning of July 30. The lamplight in my bedroom and in the room down the hall illuminate the wood floor and carpets and a bed, homey things, at last free of clutter and trash from the many days that it served as packing station/work of contemporary travel art.
Six days prior I scattered gear about the room–a sleeping bag & mat, a new tent, layers for warmth, first aid supplies, water purification, a small stove, so on. All the things I imagined I would need for a year of travel including some lucky charms… Actual charms, not mini-marshmallows shaped like leprechauns, although those are a mean snack. I was and am intent on being ready for anything–sleeping in the Boreal forest near a herd of Caribou, wandering slowly about in a summer feast of blueberries, making tea atop a plateau overlooking a craggy himalayan mountainside, dancing half naked beneath a full moon by the ganges river, paddling whitewater through a Chilean desert canyon.
The week brought some mental strain as I was preparing for a year on the road, on the yak, on the burro, on the boat, the SUP. But most of all, it brought a lot of warmth. While in Santa Fe, where I grew up, my family invited loads of friends over for an evening of conversation and a screening of a film I recently finished. Despite my own insecurity showing a personal piece I was overwhelmed by the support and integrity of our friends. I got to have heartfelt conversations with both of my parents, and I felt their love. I saw highshool friends and spent time stomping through the country where I learned about the world.
This is the country that taught me about earth and colored my life as a kid, the country that taught me about water, a topic on which I am now fixated, a foundation to take to the road, and learn a lot about, well, anything.
The last stop of the week in Santa Fe was a film about YoYo Ma and the Silk Road Ensemble. This is a project that brings musicians together from all walks of culture, all walks of practice and experience, all strains of class and education, a project meant to unify cultures distinct from one another in myriad ways, and to weave a sound that has never been heard before on earth. This is the sound of diversity, a sound allows difference, violence, history, curiosity to sing, to be beautiful. I could not have asked for a more fitting send off into my Watson year.
During one scene of the movie, YoYo has just brought about 20 musicians from across the world together for the first time in the Berkshires in Massachusetts. He is clearly anxious about what will happen. Will the experiment work? There is a vail between him and the other musicians and a curtain between them and the future, so many unknows. Anything could happen.
I identified whole heartedly with YoYo. I am preparing to drop myself into a winged cylinder labelled ICELANDAIR and fly into a world I know so little about. 21 years of life is insubstantial. To put it into numerical perspective, the average age of humans on the earth is 30 and say there are 7.5 billion people, that’s 2,250,000,000,000 years of human experience on earth right now. That doesn’t account for all our dear creatures, the earth itself, and the water.
My intent is to learn about water in three distinct places and to explore as much as I can how humans connect to that H2O. This is basic and simultaneously reveals a universe of complication.
The words of the poet John Brandi breeze through my mind.. “Go out into the world, observe keely, take notes, make drawings, go home, put it together, write about it, make a book, and over again.”
Where does one begin to ask questions? I have to remind myself over and over to keep it simple, that we are made of water, that water is life, el agua es la vida.
1:30 AM and all this stuff was beginning to slow down, the boil of curiosity coming to a simmer in my head, preparing for a short sleep before departure in the morning for Chicago for a very quick layover visit to my grandma, aunts, uncles, and cousins before heading across the pond. The pile of gear that was strewn about the rooms of my house was packed and I drifted to sleep.
Now I am sitting in the Chicago airport waiting for a flight to Iceland and then on to Norway in 4 days. I. have just a wink of an idea of what’s ahead. I am thinking graciously of all that the land and people I love here in North America that have made this this life possible, and looking forward to seeing my friends around the world and meeting new ones.