Zen in the Art of Writing and Traveling

And so begins what I hope to be the first of many exciting and enlightening blog posts depicting the many places to which I will travel in the months to come. A few very important people in my life have asked me recently what my goal or expectations are for my impending travels. On each occasion, this question has perturbed me, most likely because I’ve refrained from coming up with a concrete goal. On each occasion, however, I struggled to come up with some moderately profound answer that might help guide my adventuring. More self-reliance was my answer. More confidence in making major decisions based on my own emotions. And this is a valid and applicable goal for me right now. It would be ignorant of me to say, though, that this will remain my goal for the duration of my traveling, which is one of the reasons why I’m reluctant to make goals for this period of my life.

Perhaps another cause for my reluctance is that the very nature of having a goal demands planning on how to achieve that goal. I have no plans, save the bare minimum needed for plane tickets and such, and would like to keep it that way. I briefly considered enrolling in a study-abroad program in Beijing that focused on learning Chinese and the study of internal martial arts but then I realized, with the help of my mom, that one of the points of my taking this leave of absence from university is to live outside the structure of any formal program. I want this trip to be more of a see-as-I-go adventure. For that matter, I would like for it also to be a learn-as-I-go adventure. With that mind, I suppose I do have one goal general enough that I expect it will apply to the majority of my travels, which could be described as a greater sense of self.

And it’s in that line of thought that I take the title of my newly created blog from a collection of essays by Ray Bradbury titled Zen in the Art of Writing. I originally bought the book on a whim a couple months ago because I wanted to start writing more, and I wanted to read about how a notable writer like Ray Bradbury might approach this occupation. It turned out, as one might suspect with a title including the word zen, that the book is as much about living as it is about writing. One passage, in which Bradbury describes his love of circuses, struck me as particularly inspiring and it explains the meaning behind “Rise and Run.”

By the time people are fourteen or fifteen, they have been divested of their loves, their ancient and intuitive tastes, one by one, until when they reach maturity there is no fun left, no zest, no gusto, no flavor. Others have criticized, and they have criticized themselves, into embarrassment. When the circus pulls in at five of a dark cold summer morn, and the calliope sounds, they do not rise and run, they turn in their sleep, and life passes by. I did rise and run.

So there you have it: zest, gusto, flavor. Add those to the growing list of goals for my goalless pursuit.

I do have a few goals for this blog, mainly to learn a bit about photography and have some fun with it–I got my very first camera this Christmas (Thanks Dad!). I’d also like to grow more comfortable with writing and I aim to use this blog as a sort of public journal consisting of organized reflections. We’ll see how all that turns out. In the meantime, I encourage you to share this blog with anyone you think might be interested.

-Austin out