Staying Connected

This travel article is not about travelling. It’s about honesty, understanding and how dangerously cheap the wine is in Europe.

As a writer, before I even begin writing their journey I spend weeks tying the lives of my characters together - connecting them in an intricate web that often relies on the discovery of their “heart of darkness”. This involves digging deep in hopes of finding their truths, worst nightmares, and secrets and then escalating it to create one hell of a story.

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But the greatest writers aren’t just storytellers, they’re truth-tellers - the ones who recognize their work is at their most authentic when they’re honest about the existence of their own truths, worst nightmares, and secrets.

To the non-writers, that probably sounds like a horrible way to live. In today’s society that’s been completely oversaturated with technology, social media, dating apps, Instagram idolism and celebrity politicians, indifference is much easier to come by. We grew up having to absorb so much “stuff” because the world is moving faster than ever before. It’s overwhelming. Yeah, we still have what we believe in and what’s important to us but most people I know, myself included, prefer emotional dissociation rather than have to deal with their own hearts of darkness. It’s survival.

And for the most part, unfortunately, it’s what works. It certainly helped me further my career, enabled my independence and made it easier to cope with day to day stressors. However, I had also stunted my interest in actually experiencing what the world has to offer and my willingness to develop deeper connections with those around me. But I didn’t realize any of this until after I took a trip a little larger than my usual family getaway to Florida - until I went abroad and found myself.

Just kidding, I told you this isn’t that kind of article.

I’m not going to bore you with too many details of my travels and tell you the places I’ve been.

So, here’s the short version:

In 2017, I accepted an offer to take part in a work placement program with a production company at the Cannes Film Festival in France. At the moment of my decision, I was walking home from work listening to “How Far I’ll Go” from Disney’s Moana...so obviously I was going. I experienced the grand splendor of several wonders of the world and also exposed myself to its depravities. Not many people I know can say they’ve experienced Auschwitz, walked a red carpet, and placed notes in the Western Wall in the same month.

Everywhere, I met hundreds of people who each affected my life in their own way. It’s amazing how much more meaningful the relationships are between people you meet for a short time that you know you might never see again.

Those people become more than just followers added to your Instagram feed. They go from being lifelines in a place you’ve never been to becoming places on a map to visit later on. Stripped down from the general comforts and the baggage that we leave at home, the folks we meet on our journey force us to take in new and often refreshing perspectives that help us get a better grip on reality. Ultimately, you realize everyone is the same.

At the root of what connects characters of a story, is the same thing that connects all of us: pain.

You might be the complete opposite of that person standing directly on the other side of the world, but you can trust that they’ve stubbed their toe at least once in their life.

The older we get the more we see that life isn’t as rosy as we once believed. I used to think that sometimes things happen and you just have to deal. And if you were lucky enough, you might be able to look at yourself in the mirror and like who you see. But at the end of the day, aren’t we ALL just struggling to be understood and to understand?

Oh, and the wine? 3 Euros.