It’s been my intention to seek out, experience and celebrate the art, adventures & attitude of the places I visit, and the spaces I inhabit, when I travel. The goal has been to do this in a way that reveals my own style of artistic photography, shares my many adventures, and gives an idea of the “attitude” I assume when I’m just out there in the world, taking it all in.
More than once I’ve mentioned that it’s the accidents, whether frightening or inspiring, that bring with them a heavy dose of the unexpected. Repeatedly crashing into the unexpected, or perhaps slowly and calmly gliding up to a new environment that has captured my interest, has a way of changing the way I think, what I see and how I experience the world.
This is travel I’m describing, and sometimes it’s messy.
I’ve recently picked up the book Messy: The Power of Disorder to Transform Our Lives. From the outside, my life might seem to lack the randomness, the “mess”, which Tim Harford claim spurs creativity, gives birth to new ideas, and keeps us inspired. After all, I strive to keep my home simple and tidy. I’ve been making progress toward a more and more Minimalist lifestyle and aesthetic, for about a year now. When I pack my suitcase, my clothes are folded neatly and uniformly, in the style of Marie Kondo – see her book: The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up.
But then I pull my seatbelt tight and my plane takes off, or the train pulls away from the station with a loud whistle, or I turn the key to start my SUV’s engine, open the sunroof, and head down the road . . . and it gets a little messy!
On most trips, with some exceptions, I don’t want to have much of a plan; there are some trips that require more research and planning than others, especially those that involve international travel. But it isn’t the travel guide’s typical tourist activities and destinations that draw my attention. I want to really explore! I want to make room for “accidents”. I want to create a space, a gap, where accidents can happen, along with the great adventures that arise, out of unplanned moments.
Now, sometimes I do end up at the top of the Empire State Building, and I pay the $35 fee to do what all of the other tourists do, because. . . well, how could I go to New York City, on my first extended visit, and not ride to the top of this amazing structure? But the change in perspective, and the view from above, provides just the shift in thinking that I’m looking for. I’m challenged to take things in through a new, curious and open, set of eyes. I’m sure to see something unexpected, or see the same things that have always been there, as part of my life, but in a new light.
This sudden, and sometimes dramatic, change in perspective is just what Tim Harford is talking about, when he describes MIT’s creative hub, as a place where unexpected collaborations happen, in a disorganized and interactive space:
“Building 20 was ugly and uncomfortable but its occupants loved it. MIT’s president during the 1970s, Jerome Wiesner, described it as ‘the best building in the place,’ while Jerry Lettvin [author of ‘What the Frog’s Eye Tells the Frog’s Brain, a pivotal paper in cognitive science] said it was ‘a building with a special spirit, a spirit that inspires creativity and the development of new ideas’ adding that it was the ‘womb of the Institute. It is kind of messy, but by God it’s procreative!’ The questions is, why?” (Messy: The Power of Disorder to Transform Our Lives)
Housing a bustling scientific and intellectual community, Building 20 brought together thinkers who might not otherwise interact, to spark ideas that might otherwise not ignite. The randomness of the interactions there, with engineers and linguists sharing space with model train enthusiasts, took folks out of their research comfort zone. Thinkers and creatives were regularly pulled out of their home discipline, thereby being exposed to unfamiliar ideas, or new concepts, and came up with unheard of solutions to their intellectual puzzles. And this sometimes happened on the way to the parking lot.
Every city I visit spins my perspective, shaking me out of my routine, and enabling me to really see the city – but more than that, the city reflects back onto my life, my troubles, my aspirations. I internalize the experience, and take on the new perspective that a foreign environment brings.
Every little thing impacts me, some just a bit, others more profoundly. I aspire to bring my readers along on my travels, hoping they will go out and experience some of the things I have, booking a flight, buying the train ticket, or hopping in their car. If that’s not possible, I hope they will follow my lead by opening themselves up to something new in their everyday lives.
The smallest changes in our environment, changes that manage to break through the constraints placed on us, by our home environment, change us. Hell, look at the difference it makes in my writing, before my plan hits the ground! From one side of my journal to the other, when I can no longer see the lines through the back of the page I’m writing on, my writing suddenly loosens up, because it has more room to breathe! This is such a small thing, a tiny change in my environment, but what new ideas might it spark?
Alternatively, what thoughts might not make it onto the page, or into this blog, when I run out of space to write? (Thank goodness WordPress let’s me keep typing!)
Look around! See it all! Find dynamic art, wild adventures & a new attitude – even in what you might think of as an ordinary space, like the airport! Consider the Miami and Jacksonville, FL airports! You might be surprised at what you discover! Let exposure to the arts shift your perspective, just a little bit!
Note: Miami and Jacksonville, FL have extensive programs to bring art into public spaces. The images above are works in their current exhibits. See links below for an introduction to their programs.
Join me on my next adventure,
The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: http://tidyingup.com/books/the-life-changing-magic-of-tidying-up-hc
Messy: The Power of Disorder to Transform Our Lives: http://timharford.com/books/messy/
JAX (Jacksonville International Airport) Arts Commission / JAX Airport Art & Culture Program: http://www.jiaarts.org/
Miami International Airport: Art in Public Places: http://www.miami-airport.com/public_art.asp
Miami-Dade County: Art in Public Places: http://www.miamidadepublicart.org/